more snow brings a new critter

We’re snowed in again. Remember the snow-upholstered outdoor table and chairs from a post last week? Well, a picture is worth…well, you know, so here you are:

Last week there was about 14 inches and some melted down over the week. This is more like two feet. Personally I’m okay with it, but I feel sorry for Hubby who is at this very moment outside beginning yet another driveway clearing–that would number about the 4th time since yesterday morning as he kept trying to keep up with it while it was falling. Good thing, too. But his back is beginning to feel very stiff.

Poor Hubby. I wish I could assist him, except that I went into an RA flare on Wednesday and really can’t without wreaking havoc on my mobility. (This is a fine time, I think, to remind ourselves that, come the middle of January, we’re skipping out on winter for a whole month in the warm south of India!) In the meantime, as if we didn’t know it before, we’re slap dab in the middle of another Utah winter–probably the snowiest we’ve had in our five years here.

I’m not here to complain, however. I’m here to tell you about our latest critter. On October 31, 2007, in a post called All God’s Creatures I first introduced you to the little fellow seen here peering into our family room from outside the French doors leading to the back porch. He was mostly white with big black eyes and a streak of brownish/black fur atop his head. At first we thought ermine? mink perhaps? But further research and later winter sightings and signs on the nearby snow shoe trails showed that he’s a snow weasel.

Ever the worrier, I immediately decided this one was looking for food. Food is the answer to all problems, right? Having no idea what weasels eat, I ran to the fridge and fished a few things from the veggie tray to offer him. Since ours is largely a meatless household it was either this or opening a can of tuna or white chicken I keep in the pantry for when an it ain’t fit if it ain’t got no meat hungry guest happens to drop by. Of course he ran off when I proffered the goodies–or more accurately disappeared, literally without a trace–as he leapt up and vanished under a bank of snow.

The veggies disappeared, but I wouldn’t know until spring that they were actually done away with by a family (or two or three) of rabbits who set up housekeeping under the porch. At a level of a few inches above the ground, laden with snow that stayed throughout the winter, it made a great haven for creatures of all kinds. So for the rest of winter, we watched eagerly to catch another fleeting glimpse of this glamorous little tyke in the beautiful white fur coat. For his part he seemed as curious about us as we were about him.

The following year he didn’t show up. There was a probable explanation and I confess I felt a little bit guilty about it all the same. And I missed the beautiful little snow weasel that reminded me of a little snow clown.

The following spring we felt forced to have a professional exterminator come in to rid the house of pesky little larvae-type bugs embedded inside an outer wall behind the dishwasher, infesting the space under the sink and cabinet drawers. It was impossible to keep the place free of them. They liked to play dead but if you poked them with something, they would writhe in a manner that makes me cringe even to think of it.ย  The exterminator told us that it was probably a carpet beetle of some kind. The cycle was clear. In the summer the bugs were there, unseen, busy laying their eggs that began to hatch into the larvae that eventually produced another bug to keep the species thriving.

In the meantime, we thought why not have the bug guy extend his expertise to the rats, particularly the mice that periodically invaded the house from time to time. Neither of us had the boldness to face such a mentally taxing ordeal ourselves, so let Mikey do it. If neither of us had to see it or deal with dead mice babies, we wouldn’t be the bad guys, would we? Besides, the hills behind our house weren’t called Rattlesnake Gulch for no reason. A back yard teeming with tasty little mice makes a nice place for a rattlesnake to shop for food in the summertime, simple as that. Supply and demand. We decreased the supply and hoped the rattlesnake took his business elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the larvae problem went away–it took a couple of years–and we no longer found mice floating in the toilet. We let the bug man go. We still had plenty of critters to watch. Deer–sometimes even small herds of them. Rabbits, squirrels, a gillion Gambelย  quail families it seemed, endless flocks of noisy, aggressive Magpies and countless other politer varieties of birds, enough to amuse us daily. But we missed the little snow weasel all the same.

Until yesterday. It’s been three years, so it’s not likely the same weasel, although I’ve read they can live up to 10 years. This one doesn’t look the same as the other little fellow. On the other hand, since summer was late leaving from around here, it could be he’s still wearing some of his summer color on his coat, which could explain why there’s more brownish/black fur over more of his back. On the other hand, it’s nice to think that it could be him. Either way, here’s photographic documentation of our latest critter invasion.

As you can see, he brought his own food this time, a dead rat twice his size. Maybe the other little fellow–a cousin perhaps?–warned him that he wouldn’t like the food the lady in our house provided, nor the way the gentleman ran the place–seeing as how he kept moving the snow around–but as long as you brought along your own groceries it was not only tolerable, it was actually quite cozy and reasonably safe beneath that snow-filled porch.

Since all this business took place in the front yard, he did have a quandary or two to deal with. He had to figure out how to transfer it to the back, and he was far too short to lift the gate latch on the other side. Mother Nature must have given her smallest creatures extra wrinkles in their brains to make up for whatever brawn they lack. Here he pauses on the side yard just outside the gate to the back yard while he lets his load of food lie nearby. After disappearing for a very short time over the wall, he apparently planned out his route, then came back for the rat.

Considering that his meat for the freezer is larger than he, it wasn’t an easy feat at all. Welcome back little guy. You’ve got a lot of gumption. Some of our human race should be so lucky.

24 thoughts on “more snow brings a new critter

  1. Wow, Alice. Looks like lots of creepy critters. I don’t envy you the snow either. I’m hoping we have a mild winter. The last one was our coldest in the 12 years we have lived here. It was great talking with you and I hope we do it more often. I’m hanging in. Later.

    • If it doesn’t get any worse or keep me from going anywhere, I really don’t mind the snow as much as the cold. It was nice catching up, wasn’t it? And you know how I am about ‘phoning, but you’re always somewhere in my mind. You must be feeling better; hope you’re able to get about now with as close to perfect vision as possible.

  2. Well, look at that. Yes, perhaps he still has his winter coat on. We need to call the exterminator too. We have silverfish….and books and paintings and papers. G says the deed will be done while we are off to the south.

    Have you heard from Ruthe?

    • Silverfish?! How terrible–I worry for all those books, particularly the cookbooks! And I have not heard from Ruthe. I’ve been wondering if everything’s okay there. Perhaps we’ll hear something soon.

      • I worry for all the books also.

        I just sent her a note, and I took your name in vain by signing both our names. Just to say that we were worried and hoped she was ok. Silence isn’t her.

        • Well I’m glad you did. It’s exactly what I wanted you to do. Thanks. Hope she pops back in real soon!

  3. While you are looking at your cute little snow weasels, I was showing Tin a big fat nutria that was cutting a V through the bayou yesterday. Lovely creatures with big orange fangs.

    • Oh my! I just had a look at some pictures of them through google. I’ll take my weasel over your nutria any day. They look as if they’d be almost as big as Tin. (On closer observation, they are cute in their own way. That’s what Hubby says about me.) ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. What’s this “snow” of which you speak? We folks here in Australia know nothing of this stuff. Okay, there may be a few people who live in the mountains who are cognizant of the stuff, but we generally ignore them.

    • What a pleasant surprise hearing from you, Peter! Are you sure you don’t get just a little bit of the white stuff too? I’m originally from the snowless southeast U.S. you know. So many years ago when I was living briefly in Connecticut, someone at a party mistook me for my accent as being from Australia. Weird, huh? I’ll bet you don’t sound a bit southern. Thanks for commenting; nice to hear from you. Now get back to digging up another music program for me to enjoy Sunday! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Nope, we get no snow at all here in Melbourne (or any other major city). More than a third of Australia is in the tropics.
        As I mentioned, places in and around the mountains in Victoria and New South Wales get snow, as do such places as Hobart (maybe once every two or three years). Also, a couple of high cities in Victoria (Ballarat springs to mind) one in a while, but apart those, we are snow-less.
        As for accents, I’ve spent some considerable time in your country, mainly San Francisco, Boston, Albuquerque and Los Angeles. Although different, the accent around your north-east is the closest to Australian (but not very). I’ve been mistaken for American (here in Australia!), Canadian, English (Americans haven’t a clue what Australians sound like), French even.

        • Thanks for the Australian weather lesson. Hubby says after we go to Europe (next year?) we must fit Australia in soon after. It’s always been a destination of interest, as is New Zealand. Maybe we could clock them in on the same trip. Obviously we should skip out on winter here and go there in your summer, which I presume is when we’re getting our worst snowfall. Sounds like a plan to me.

      • Oh, New Zealand has regular snow, if you like that sort of thing, particularly the south island. I’m told it’s splendid skiing and there’s usually no one around. Of course, there’s usually no one around anywhere in New Zealand.

        • Clearly we need to read more on New Zealand besides what we picked up at the cultural center in Hawaii.

  5. Thanks for sharing your wonders of nature! Today was warm and uncomfortably humid here. The snow looks appealing right now!

  6. What fun! I love the documentary of your little weasel! We didn’t get nearly as much snow here in the western desert but enough to make me happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • So you’re back from Baaston…I wonder how their more humid winter suited you who’re used to dry winter. I like dry myself. I love all our critters–even when it’s so cold I feel I should invite them all inside. Welcome home.

    • They’re a bit jumpy but I’ll try. The one I saw yesterday was looking a bit poorly; I think I need to check my carrot and cabbage bin.

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