Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lions, Tigers and Bears...oh My!!

Its been a busy few weeks getting ready for Josh's graduation. Lots of preparations including making a cake, smoking pork roasts for pulled pork sandwiches, making salads, cleaning house, chopping wood..... Today he graduated, its official, I have two out of school and one high schooler. Wow how time flies! They were just babies is seems.

Mom & Dad are in town as well as Steve's folks, such a nice time being able to visit and see everyone...and not to be the ones traveling for a change. Dad brought the swing he made, its a replica of the one he made with his dad back when he was a young boy. I even bought some model-T tire chains off eBay to make it just like the one I spent many an hour swinging on and talking out life's questions with mom & dad. I can't wait to get it up on the front porch and swing to my hearts content!

Thursday evening I went out late to put the animals away and heard a couple of twigs snapping in the ravine just north of the house. I swung my flashlight around but saw nothing. Chasing the calves down from the pasture behind the chicken house they seemed a bit skittish but were pretty easy to get in. I heard a squawk and some rustling practically under my feet. I jumped and turned the flashlight toward my feet. The dim beam of the flashlight revealed a chicken flopping around on the ground, blood pouring from its mouth. Further examination revealed no major visible injuries, I suspect one of the cows stepped on it in the dark, a fatal step. I gathered it up for Hershey, locked the animals up and headed back down to the comfort and security of the house. The animals seemed a bit spooked and I picked up on it too, I felt uneasy, anxious to get back inside. Mom stood at the top of the ravine with her flashlight, she heard the cracking of twigs too and was lending the help of her light to direct my path as well.

Friday, I got up around 5 and headed out to do chores. As I approached the ravine, I noticed a young buck, a yearling, partially devoured and lying just feet from where we had both passed just hours earlier. One leg completely torn off and several ribs strewn around along with tufts of coarse fawn colored hair. The realization hit me, the twigs cracking was due to the mountain lions. I probably scared them off when I went up to do chores. Had I only known, I wouldn't have lingered over the chicken, examining it thoroughly.

The hind quarters were still intact, mostly just the innards had been devoured and some of the ribs. I harvested the is a few steps above road kill. Some nice roasts and hamburger meat for the freezer. Josh took the quad and a rope and drug the carcass over the hill for the coyotes and lions to finish off. I didn't want them returning to finish the feast and didn't want the stench and fly problems either. We were later told by a neighbor that they were probably sitting up on a ridge somewhere watching over their kill, waiting for dusk to come back and partake. Hope they saw us drag it away from the house...far, far away from the house.

So, my Friday graduation preparations were interrupted by a a quick butcher job. Unexpected, but the meat was welcomed.

Hershey seemed very excited to see what the big kitties had brought her. She was so proud, as if she had caught it herself.

A little too close to the house for my comfort!

Skinning it out, getting ready to harvest the hind quarters as Josh and Steve look on.

There was a nice amount of meat left behind by the big cats.

picking hairs form the meat and trying to figure out how to cut up some roasts and such.