The weather has been unseasonably warm the past several days here in west central Wisconsin. Itís warm enough that the ground isnít covered with frost at sunrise. I worked outside in short sleeves all afternoon and noticed some flying insects out and about. For a moment I thought it was mid-September.
Just before sunset a couple of little brown bats flew out of the barn and fluttered over the tall grass along the creek. The warm nights are long and the bats have come out of hibernation.
When itís warm their hearts beat quickly and uses much more energy. When the temperatures drop below freezing, their heart beats slow to a fraction of normal and they will live off their body fat. Needing more fuel, the bats have come out looking for insects. This may be the latest Iíve ever seen bats out and about.
While moving a pile of old lumber I came across a large grass nest snuggled in between the boards. It was too big to be a mouse nest and I have never seen any signs of a rat. I noticed too, a part of a dead rabbit not far from the rest. I wondered if maybe a weasel had taken up residence. It would be good to have these fiesty little hunters around. They are very good for keeping the population of mice at bay.
A weasel will eat anything he can catch, regardless of his small size. From the tip of his tail to the tip of his nose they are only about 10 inches but will tackle an animal the size of a full grown rabbit.
I once watched as a long-tailed weasel killed a large cotton-tail, then dragged his dinner 30 yards through deep snow and stashed it under a brush pile. A most amazing feat of strength and determination.
The weasel does most of his hunting under cover of darkness but Iíll keep my eyes peeled for a glimpse of him. When the snow comes Iíll look for tell-tale tracks.
The weasel is a good friend of the farmer because his diet includes mice, voles, ground squirrel and insects like grasshoppers and beetles.
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