Milo Yield: Spring brings new weather and animals, but memories of winter | TheFencePost.com

Milo Yield: Spring brings new weather and animals, but memories of winter

It's spring now and we had a minor league flood last week to prove it. Plus, the grass and weeds are growing so fast now they need to be mowed at least once a week.

Despite the occurrence of spring, the weather has been chilly enuf for me to drag out my long-johns again. And, since that's the case, a funny winter story is still "in season."

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My Iowa sheep shearing buddy, ol' Nick deHyde, works at an animal research business that uses tons of straw for bedding the animals. Because of that necessity, the business buys large supplies of straw bales to store on the premises and, as any farmer knows, a stack of wheat or oat straw is a natural magnet for rats and mice.

Of course, rats and mice pose hygiene problems at a research facility, so the employees use all means available to dispose of the filthy rodents. Well, in the heart of last winter, during an extreme cold spell, Mother Nature dispatched a god-send to the scene.

A wild mink decided to come in from the cold and set up shop in the straw bales to feast on a rat and mouse buffet.

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Nick and the employees were thankful for the mink's appetite and were careful to avoid doing anything to scare the predator away.

All the while during the cold weather, Nick and the employees had another wild animal scenario going. A wild cottontail took refuge from the rampaging winter under the front porch of the research facility's headquarters. The bunny looked half-starved when it arrived, so the employees started scrounging alfalfa pellets and grain to feed it. The cottontail welcomed their largesse and within a couple of weeks got fat and sleek.

But then came the morning when the wildlife scenario at the research facility changed instantaneously. Nick and the employees were taking a coffee break in the headquarters when they heard that ear-shattering squall that a cottontail rabbit emits when it's about to be eaten by a predator.

Nick rushed out of the coffee break and spied the "pet" mink with a tooth-hold on the nape of the screeching cottontail's neck. It's intent wuz clear — enjoy a meal of fresh rabbit a'fresco.

Nick had other ideas. He grabbed his felt hat off his head, yelled and heaved it at the marauding mink. The startled mink dropped its hold on the cottontail and hightailed it back to the facility's barn. The rabbit took advantage of its second lease on life by scampering away into a nearby woods.

Nick sez it wuzn't very many days before the mink departed, too. But not before it had cleared the facility of the rat/mice nuisance. He hopes the mink survives until next winter and remembers to return and help with rodent control.

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Ol' Nevah won't be happy with this part of my column. But, she'll get over it.

At a recent visit to her dentist, Dr. Picken Pollish, he convinced Nevah to buy an electric toothbrush. The device wuz on sale and it wuz her first venture into electronic tooth-brushing.

Well, the first evening as we were preparing for bed, I heard Nevah fire up her electric toothbrush. After a minute or so, I happened to glance at her at the bathroom sink.

What I saw broke me into instant laughter. My good wife had froth and slobbers dripping into the sink from both sides of her mouth. I thought for a second that she had gone mad and wuz suffering from hydrophobia.

When I started laughing at her, she started laughing, too, which only made the frothing/slobbering worse. It wuz a hilarious moment for us.

Glad to say, Nevah has now mastered the art of electronic toothbrushing.

As for me. I'm too old-fashioned. I'm sticking to my old standby — toothbrushing by hand, not electricity.

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My chickens have free range over several acres of grass, alfalfa and clover. But that's not enuf for a few stubborn old hens who insist on strolling to the house and scratching in Nevah's flower gardens.

So, I loaded up my old BB gun and have been shooting the offending hens in the butt to discourage their ventures into the flower gardens. It doesn't hurt the hens a bit, but it sure does surprise them and I enjoy watching them squawk and run back toward the hen house.

They don't realize how lucky they are. I could turn my bird dog pup Mandy loose on them and they'd get an education they'd never forget — if they survived it.

•••

My 25 new chicks are thriving and enjoying the little temporary outdoor pen I erected outside their brooder house. In a few weeks, I'll start giving them free reign over the premises. At the request of some of my egg customers, I included 11 Araucana — "Easter Egg" chickens to those of you not familiar with chicken breeds — so eventually my customers can enjoy natural blue and green eggs.

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I can hardly believe that the American political system has retrograded to the point that it looks like two candidates — both with low public approval and trust ratings — will be our choices. Somehow, the system should work better. I guess it's true that we get to suffer through the politicians we elect. I'd like to vote for a "statesperson" for a change. That's my wisdom for the week. Have a good 'un. ❖

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