|Fresh trail, just after chasing the weasel out of the barn!|
The tracks are not my dogs, not barn cats and not the neighbors' big dogs. It's more of a little tunnel through the top layer of the snow - with a deeper impression every two feet or so. Like some little critter was jumping from place to place but not getting high enough to actually clear the snow. Seeing these odd tracks, I did not open the chickens' hatch, even though the temperature has risen to quite an acceptable -12 C (about 8 F) over night. Finished with morning chores in the chicken coop, I headed into the barn to give the goats their morning grain ration, re-fill waters and feed the barn cats. I heard an odd squeaky 'meow' from beside the big sliding door, behind some equipment. I went over, thinking perhaps a barn kitty was hurt or stuck. I moved a feed bag, which was on top of the grinder and out from behind the welder popped a little brown head with bright, brown eyes. It looked very much like a ferret a friend owns.
I'm not much of a screamer, thankfully. I actually calmly said 'hello' to the little weasel. Then I reached over and opened the sliding door a ways with my right hand, reached for a nearby broom with my left hand and started whacked the welder. The little critter leaped out the door and streaked along the side of the barn, disappearing around the north corner of the barn. The tracks went under the shed that sits on the north side of the barn. So, Farmer Man definitely called it: a weasel is our predator! A very strong, musky odor remains behind the welder - I didn't realize weasels had such a forceful fragrance! So, a trap is absolutely in our future; in the meantime I probably won't be able to help myself and I'll be trekking through the snow to the barn every half hour or so today doing guard duty! I've got to think twice about letting the dogs come with me when I go because, in my reading, weasels can be vicious fighters especially when cornered! I certainly don't want one tangling with Blaze or Grizzly Bear - my usual companions!