the way out here

Coming home to critters

Posted 6/19/24

I’ve been saying for a while that once we get into our new house a lot of things will get easier. Among them, I would have to put my commute to work at the top of the list, given the drastic …

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the way out here

Coming home to critters


I’ve been saying for a while that once we get into our new house a lot of things will get easier. Among them, I would have to put my commute to work at the top of the list, given the drastic difference between nearly an hour then and a whopping 45 seconds now. What will I do with all this newfound time? More insanity of course, such as hours of work in the greenhouse. But I have found that it affords more opportunities to do what I’ve been missing the last few years, just for the sake of time alone. 

My dad recently took me out for the last week of turkey season one morning and I was able to meet him quicker and get out hunting and complete our hunt before I would have otherwise been done driving to meet him. Thus I christened our home with the first harvest of game to grace our dinner table since moving in. 

I’ve spoken before of how Mrs. Hill makes a mean white chili. If you are the sort of person to be skeptical of wild turkey, I recommend a quality white chili recipe before you write it off completely. 

I’m not the only one who has taken to hunting to get settled into our new home. Our cat has been busy day and night, discovering new areas and prey to exploit. Unfortunately, his range is a bit liberal and he may or may not have plundered the robin’s nest the neighbors have been watching on the front porch. 

To his credit, however, he has gotten right to work catching voles and mice in the greenhouse and garden areas. What’s more, he seems to favor the large log pile we have in our yard. (The logs were kept for firewood after we cleared the lot for construction.) You would think he was given the world’s greatest cat tree—nay, the palace of cat trees. In any case, whatever chipmunks and critters used to call that tree pile home now reside in the great trees in the sky or got wise and made a run for it while they could.

Of course, we brought our working pets as well to the new property. That was quite an undertaking, moving three large chicken buildings. And although they are not hunters themselves, they act as bait, unfortunately. I would far rather not have to worry about them interacting with the natives so to speak, but the reality is, chickens are a catalyst for farmer/varmint interactions. It simply can’t be helped. 

As such, despite installing a new fence nearly twice the size of the old one, I have already encountered visitors who don’t know how to stay out of their area. A few evenings ago, I walked down to close the buildings’ doors, as I do each day, when I saw a small, fluffy, white thing bumbling around in the doorway from a distance. Anticipating an eventuality of this kind, I had already begun carrying my shotgun when I made my evening rounds. Unfortunately, when it comes to skunks, you cannot simply shoot the varmint when they are in your chicken house. So I stood back 20 feet or so with my headlamp and begrudgingly watched and listened to Mr. Skunk crack and eat a few eggs my dummy chickens left on the floor. When he had eaten what was readily available he quickly slipped out the door and went right under the building through a gap I honestly would not have expected him to fit through. After a small game of ring-around-the-chicken-coop, I eventually caught him in the open and dispatched the egg-eating trespasser without any further to-do. I lucked out as he didn’t make a very big stink compared to others, and I at least walked away clean.

The way out here, part of establishing yourself in a new property is setting the tone with your native neighbors. For the good of both wild and domestic animals, it takes a combination of physical presence, assertive education and vigilance to reconstruct the pecking order of nature. There’s a reason God put man in charge of the creatures of the earth in Genesis, and with good stewardship, we can realize the best rewards of the cultivated and the uncultivated. This week that just happened to be fresh turkey chili and fresh eggs from the chickens.


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