Or muskrat rather. While feeding the goats this evening I heard an awful ruckus of barking and growling going on in the goat shed. Abby and Bayla, the livestock guardian dogs were fighting with something, though I didn't have a clue as to what it was at first. The hay feeders had just been filled and there wasn't anything in there a minute before, at least not that I saw. A dozen goats came running out of the shed as the commotion started looking all kinds of bewildered and upset. I had my hands full at that moment with the herd wimp Ruthy on a collar and leash, standing guard over her share of grain while she ate to prevent the other goats from taking her dinner, so Jamey hurried to the shed to see what was going on.
Jamey got to the shed just in time to see one of the dogs flip what looked like a huge rat through the air, then they cornered it again. Abby and Bayla were just being good guardian dogs by attacking this strange animal they perceived as a threat in their herd's home. I was impressed that they both stopped and backed off when told too, but they stood close by, alert and ready to jump on this strange intruder again if need be.
By that time I was able to let Ruthy go and see for myself what was going on in the goat shed. I expected to find some nasty barn rat or the usual opossum but there in the corner of the shed under guard of two dogs was a huge muskrat. I don't know what he was doing down by the house, their habitat is near water at marshes, ponds or streams. They will fight one another, especially during food shortages. The defeated individual is pushed out; the victorious remains. Perhaps this one had been driven from his home, maybe up at one of our two farm ponds and was searching for a new one. Their diet is typically things such as cattail, pond weeds, white clover and they readily utilize dry land weeds, grasses and cultivated corn. Snails, frogs, crayfish and salamanders are also on the menu. Perhaps he was attracted to the prairie and alfalfa hay in the shed. Whatever reason he was in the goat shed, it was a very bad place for him to be and it did not turn out well for him I am afraid.
He was still feisty enough to try and bite Jamey's boot so I didn't see at first until after the first picture were taken that he was actually severely hurt by the dogs. His leg or back was broke because he could only drag his back end and he was bleeding from a wound on his stomach. Some may find it strange but it isn't the way I would have preferred for things to turn out. The soft hearted side of me would have preferred to catch it alive and release it far away at the creek, however that was not going to happen because he was mortally wounded and the only humane thing to do was to end his suffering. I don't enjoy seeing anything killed but after the deed was done we did have a morbid curiosity to see just how big he was.
All of the commotion has settled down now. The dogs are fine and the goats did go back in their shed to finish their hay after all the excitement was over with. Just another day on the farm!
4 hours ago