Farm life is a lot about who is eating what. For instance, the whole idea of the garden is to grow fresh, nourishing produce, but in doing that, a lot of effort has to go into keeping everybody else in the neighborhood from getting it first–and by everybody else I mean birds, rabbits, deer, raccoons, insects, etc. So we built a fence fortified with wire that’s six feet high and buried eight inches below the ground.
Then the chickens can run around eating all the bugs, beetles and whatever so that they will in turn produce fresh eggs. But there are plenty of things that would love to eat those chickens (see list above, and add to that our own dogs!) so we have a fancy coop (yes, the Ranch arrived and is now installed!) that becomes a fortress at dusk, with locks on the doors and clamps on the nesting boxes and sliding panels to cover the windows, which are already covered with wire. They say a raccoon only needs a half inch to reach in and take a lethal swipe at a snoozing chick. Horrible! The guinea hens are also threatened by all of these predators and need a safe place to roost at night as well. Then they can spend their days moving about the neighborhood feasting on a host of pests, most importantly, TICKS, which could plague our existence if not for these busy creatures. The cats are part of this symbiosis as well, or could be, if I let nature take it’s course. When we moved them from the city last fall, I vowed to move them indoors, for their protection (again, see list above) and for that of our many feathered friends. We have bird feeders around the porch that we are constantly filling with enormous amounts of seed so we can watch the fantastic parade daily. If Sam insists on going out, I keep him on a leash, lest the parade become a buffet.
He doesn’t mind too much, because it puts him in the perfect position to watch for the lizards that live under the porch, which I have rescued numerous times from becoming a kitty snack themselves. Starbuck is not a problem either way. She has become portly in her old age and prefers to stay indoors napping, but likes her meals on time.
As long as we’re talking food chain on the farm, I should also mention the sourdough starter, which eats the free floating yeast spores in the atmosphere! So it’s pretty low maintenance, but I do give it a little snack of flour and water everyday, just to keep it bubbling and because I think it’s okay to help Mother Nature along. I try not to think of it as another farm pet, which would be evidence that I’m becoming a crazy old farm lady–so don’t go thinking that.