Monday, January 9, 2012

Not a Warm and Fuzzy Tale!

I keep some portion of my early gleam;
Brokenly bright, like moonbeams on a river,
It lights my life, a far illusive dream,
Moves as I move, and leads me on forever.

       John Townsend Towbridge

Night Checks!

 I repeat this is not a warm and fuzzy tale. If you are squeamish see you tomorrow.

This is the story expressing how being a farmer can throw you a gamut of emotions within hours. Everyone knows that I am a farmer and we are presently in the middle of calving season, all is going well so far we have nineteen as I have told you on a previous post. They are running around enjoying no snow and record warm temperatures. I love this.

I love walking amongst the cows, petting the ones that will let me, and talking to all of them. The majority of the calves just keep running, and kicking up their heels.  Their Mothers trust me and consider me part of (I am assuming here) the herd. I love writing these stories;  “ The all is going well” tales.

Sometimes my dream world turns into reality very quickly. Sometimes cow/calf farming can be a harsh world indeed. I do not like writing these stories but I cannot just ignore them and let everyone believe that farming is all wonderful and calm. It is not.

Early one morning I was taking a couple of bales back to the cows, they are not very far from the house and I can watch them with binoculars. I notice a cow standing over a calf bawling. I rush back and jump out of the tractor. It strikes me as strange that this calf is laying spread eagled on its back with its head to one side. I run over to check.

There was a huge gaping hole in the neck just below the ear. The calf was dead; but was still warm, the blood still gushing out of it. This was very upsetting not only for the reason of death but the question of what had done this. I had obviously scared it off. I had not seen anything and this was not a coyote kill like I had ever seen. I have seen a lot of nasty things over the years but this one had me worried I must admit.

I talked to a couple of farmers and a livestock expert who informed me it was probably a fisher this is a vicious animal something like  its cousin the weasel, but  it  being much larger could do this easily. I have heard many horrible stories since. Folk tales maybe, but maybe not.  It turns out all our neighbours have been losing their cats, this is a sure sign I am told.

This has never been a problem before and hopefully never again I pray it has moved on. I used to check the cows twice a day but now am worried about the coyotes that have moved in. I now am going to be checking three times a day, not leaving a lot of time for anything else. More night checks with flashlights and headlights.

Tomorrow I will post that warm and fuzzy post about the morning after. “Farming is not for the faint of heart.” I know my Grandma used to say that when I first started farming here. She was always right.

Fisher Martes pennanti, is a marten. Despite its name, this animal seldom eats fish, but is agile in trees and slender enough of body to pursue prey into hollow trees or burrows in the ground. Adults weigh between 4-15 lbs and are between 29-47 inches in length, with the males larger and heavier than the females. Their coats are darkish brown, with a black tail and legs; some individuals have a cream-colored patch on the chest. All four feet have five toes with retractable claws. Because they can rotate their hind paws 180 degrees, they can grasp limbs and climb down trees head first. Fishers are solitary hunters, feeding mainly on small herbivores such as mice, porcupines (they are the only predator to consistently hunt this quilled animal), squirrels shrews and possibly deer

Thank You for the information.

There is a photo on that site.



  1. This is so sad. You are a strong woman. *hugs*

  2. Well that sucks - I have never heard of that animal - hopefully it has moved on!
    Losing a calf is so hard.

  3. I am so sorry. It's heartbreaking to lose an animal, especially like this. Hugs!

  4. I have heard of this animal, but never seen one (or evidence of one). It's tough to lose an animal this way: we had quite a flock of fowl at one time, until a family of raccoons found it. Then the skunks started in...I hope you or one of your neighbors find the culprit soon!

  5. Folks around here, north WI, are loosing cattle, calves, pets, to the wolves, bobcat and cougars. So sorry to hear your loss of a calf. Let's hope that's the end of it but realistically, the taste is on and the kills could continue, with regret. Scrape the ground clean in several places in hopes of identifying a track. At least you will know what to watch for and maybe the officials can help put an end to the killings. Good luck my friend. Mother Nature is cruel sometimes...and your Grandmother was right.

  6. We have lots of fishers back here in the hills of the Ottawa Valley. We've lost so many cats I've lost count. Several years back one came after me when I was taking the compost bucket out. My husband saw it before I did and shot it from the upstairs window. That thing took off running in the opposite direction with his guts dragging. They are not to be underestimated! The one that is hanging around here right now seems to be afraid of my dog. I hope that's a good sign, but I don't leave Nemo outdoors alone.

  7. It sounds like a really nasty squirrel that likes meat. UGH.

  8. i have heard of people having these - they make horrible screams, too, so i've been told.

  9. So, SO sorry that you've lost one of those dear baby calves and are under the threat of more attacks. You're right. Farming is a job that makes you aware of all sides of life and death.

    Most people are so insulated against how their food gets to their table and how raw the world can really be.

  10. Well I'm sure sorry to hear about this. I know it's so sad for that Mama cow too, to be bawling like that. You just want to hug her and tell her it's going to be ok. I've heard bobcats are making a comeback....or was it cougars...I think bobcats. Either way, I'd be on the watch too. I had never heard of a fisher so I went to the sight you indicated. Interesting. I love nature and learning about it. A couple of weeks ago I posted about our neighbor. Apparently a minx (or two or more) killed about 25 of his chickens. You're right, farming isn't for the feint of heart.

    Cindy Bee

  11. that poor little calf. i'm so sorry you lost her. a heartbreaking line of business, to say the least.

  12. We had a fisher almost kill one of our cats right up against the house! They are horrible, aggressive devils that may be protected but I have no use for them.

  13. What a horrible thing to find - I'm sorry about the poor wee calf and sorry for you having to find it. Hope you don't have any more problems with them.
    I don't know how you do it!!!

  14. Disturbing how they attack a calf but then a newborn calf wouldn't have any defences and it's mum wouldn't feel real energetic after giving birth :(. Now you know the fisher is there can you get rid of it? Australia has a wildlife service that traps and relocates native animals that harm stock, like quolls who will kill every chicken in a hen house and take one but some quolls are a protected species! Failing that can you shoot/poison it as they sound quite savage and I don't think I'd want to confront one without protection of some sort!

  15. How frightening and disheartening! You are doing the right thing to keep a close watch for awhile. I am sure it will try to come back for more. I have never heard of this animal... and hope I never do again.

  16. My husband and I were just watching Lee and Tiffany a hunting show. They were in Canada hunting bear and fischer came into Tiffany's hunting spot. I commented on how much it looked like my pine martin. My husband started telling all of the awful stories he has heard about those viscious little creatures. Amazingly nasty for the size. Hopefully, you scared it off before it acquired a taste for beef. Sorry about the little guy, but like you said such is farm life. Good luck on the extra watches. Keep the little guys safe.

  17. oh I think I would be sad beyond belief but I guess it is part of farming life takes a special person to do this kind of work thank you for that. I think sharing the bad and sad along with the good is a good thing it makes you appreciate the good all the more.

  18. I hope the fisher is gone.

    We have a new type of buzzard that has moved with white under their wings. They are smaller than our turkey buzzards but are very aggressive. Several ranchers have lost calves to these. They will attack a new born calf and proceed to eat waiting for it to die like normal handy buzzards.

    Needless to say, the population is decreasing...I am sure they are protected by some laws, but farmers protect their animals.


The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

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