Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sable or Mink?

After taking care of the horses this morning I came back inside. It was 15 below zero with a pretty stiff wind.

Sitting around on a Saturday morning when it's too cold to go out puts me in a mood. I never know which mood until I try a few. First thing I did was write new lyrics to the tune of "Bad to the Bone".
I called it "Froze to the Bone".

That was after three cups of coffee.

Then we looked out at the bird feeder and something hairy was on it. I blinked a few times and thought I saw a Sable. A 1995 Mercury Sable.
No, not that one! This one!

I did! I did! I did saw a sable!
We usually call them Marten or Pine Marten around here, but it's the same critter. As it was -15F and windy I guess he was hungry for some suet. Of course he had to get into some contortions to get at it seeing as how he doesn't have a beak like a bird. He managed to get some, though. Here he is taking a break.
Maybe a second helping would be in order.
He gave up at that point and went down into the woods. We left the chickens in their coop because martens will kill chickens. I caught on in the act once and had to make it stop. The surviving chickens were too traumatized to go back in their coop and were later killed by another marten, but that was long ago.

I went to start reading a book and after a while something furry at the bird feeder caught my attention. I thought the marten was back. I was wrong.
This time it was a mink! A cousin of the marten from the Mustelidae family it is a bit smaller and more aquatic. We have ponds and a trout stream running about 150 feet from the house which would normally keep it fed, but it is getting toward the end of winter even though it is still a bit frigid. The water is a bit "thick" to swim in and is the Suet is an easier catch.

Of course, there are others who might like a bit if time on the feeder.

Minks are not as good at climbing as martens, so we watched it fall off the feeder into the snow a couple of times.
Note the snow on its back and tail, but it doesn't give up easily.
It still defends its "kill" against all comers.
Then it was full so it headed back toward the creek which has been frozen for a couple of months.
That was it for the daylight hours, but it did come back in the evening for a while. I thought about starting a collection with which to make a nice fur piece for the girls, but it might take a while. Then I though of the luxury I would feel if I used it as insulated underwear to keep things warm down in "manland". I am sure there are those who would ask why I had that smile on my face while walking around in the subzero cold. I would wait until they had a mouthful of coffee and tell them proudly, "I have a dead animal in my pants!"

 Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Those little thieving critters are bad to the bone!

    Stay warm, Jono. It's rough for all of us living at northern latitudes right now.

  2. so funny this morning! wild critters need to survive in this brutal cold.

    here it's 12F with a sub-zero wind chill. spouse and I have not and will not venture outside until work time tomorrow.

  3. They're beautiful (if dangerous) animals, aren't they? And all critters got to eat, it's true. I get quite dangerous if I haven't eaten for a few hours; I can't imagine how much snarlier I'd be if I was truly starving.

  4. What adorable pictures! They have to be cute to get away with so much.

  5. Ooooh. Jealous thoughts.
    What amazing sights to see at your feeders.
    And how glad I am to have finished my tea before reading your penultimate sentence. Most of those with a dead animal in their pants are reluctant to admit to its demise.

  6. Those are some awesome pictures! In Germany martens are known for trying to eat wiring, plastic, and rubber in cars. From what I understand there is even "marten insurance" to get reimbursed for this kind of damage.

    As far as getting works better if you put some Kahlua in your coffee.

  7. Ahab, They are cute, but have a nasty streak if you get between them and whatever they want.

    anne marie, That is as warm as it got here all last week. Now it is going to get warmer and life will be easier.

    Debra, I might have to think of a good marketing scheme. I'll bet they'd sell well in Canada. Watch Hockey Night in Canada for the ads.

    jenny_o, I'm with you. I'm very even tempered, but don't get between me and my food.

    Donna, They are cute, but even raising one from a pup is probably not a good idea.

    Elephant's Child, After writing that I thought of Murr Brewster's "Trousering Your Weasel" stories. She thinks like that much of the time.

    Pixel Peeper, Some folks will even hand feed them around here, but it is generally not a good idea. They can get to be a nuisance.

  8. I don't think we have any of those around here (if we do, I've never seen them), but I love watching anything fall while trying to eat. Animal watching, schadenfreude... potato, potatoe.

  9. So you've been reduced to writing a post filled with weasel words :D

  10. "A fur-lined peter heater."
    Debra wins!
    Would love to see your "Froze to the Bone" lyrics.

  11. I always wondered how I would entertain myself if it ever got to 15 below. Now I know!

  12. omg your mind and mine are in synch..I love socks with aloe vera in them..I tell people it's like putting your feet in a dead kitty...ha

  13. Bill, Maybe I could learn to be a political speechwriter!

    Dawn, I might have to use Debra's description when it goes on the shopping channel. I just may post those lyrics soon.

    Tom, As long as you stay indoors everything will be fine.

    JACKIESUE, It is scary that we are on the same cosmic wavelength. I've meant to say something like that about your posts, but I didn't want to scare you.

  14. Us'in that critter as ah peter pocket probly would put a smile on yer face.

  15. Well well, a marten and a mink, you were truly blessed with your furry visitors. Have they eaten all the squirrels?
    It was -25C here on Saturday. I thought my face was going to freeze right off when I took Isey to the ice rink. Furry undies.... oh my!

  16. Nancy, It really doesn't sound like a bad idea as long as the critter ain't movin'.

    Shammickite, There are still quite a few squirrels which is probably why the marten is here. Isn't it fun living in a place where the air hurts your face?

  17. You could sell that furry underwear and call it Something to Smile About. It would sell like hotcakes. :-)

  18. I never knew pine martens existed in America. Did settlers bring them from Europe? Handsome little critters but extremely vicious. Did it even notice you as you were taking those excellent pictures?

  19. Brrr rather you than me in that cold. I'm not a big fan of Minks, they ten to wreck stuff if they get near your house or cabin and I find them a bit scary at times.

  20. That's a great idea, Jono. You can't let things get too cold and risk frigidity or shrinkage in manland. I've seen some scary stuff in men's pants. A little mink wouldn't do any harm. Plus, a woman likes her mink.

  21. Is that a mink in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

    Great photos - I wouldn't have known the difference between and mink and a marten/sable. I'm pretty sure I could identify the Mercury Sable, though...

  22. Agi Tater, A lot of guys might get that Mona Lisa smile with all that warmth and softness.

    Gorilla Bananas, They are native to this north central part of the continent and most of the North Woods. He didn't seem to notice, but was not worried because he knew he could shred my face in a moment.

    thethoughtsandlifeofme, How come you get to live farther north, but get to stay warmer. It's not fair! Mink can be destructive, but I try not to give them reason to be.

    Robyn, Could I ask someone if they would like to pet my mink?

    Diane, In your case I'm just happy to see you. It gets easier if you line them up side by side. Unfortunately, they need to be dead to do that.

  23. Are they also cousin to the ferret? Thanks for the photos. (They do move in an entertaining way.)

  24. Sioux, Yes, ferret, stoat weasel, and fisher are also in this group. I always thought the marten and fisher were pretty cool. Dean Marten, and Eddie Fisher are the names of some I have known. :)

  25. Sable and Marten are the same critter? I never knew that. I always associate sable with Russia. I have a black sable Russian hat I bought in Kazakhstan in 2010 for $400 but it doesn't get cold enough in Ukraine to need it. Great pictures

  26. What a wonderful zoo you have. And what a character you are.

  27. Finally! Someone else who takes photos of the happenings around their bird feeders!

    Our problem here in middle TN is raccoons. Occasionally a possum will raid the feeders at night, but usually it's raccoon causing all the problems. I've used a catch and release trap to put about twenty of them into the Rocky Raccoon Witness Protection System so far. I usually haul them about fifteen miles down the road to a little wooded pond area, so I'm sure the farmers in THAT part of the county are wondering why there are so many raccoons swarming around these days.

    Wish we had some of those little critters you're posting about... at least it would be something different to whine about!

  28. Blog Fodder, I'll bet that's an awesome hat!

    Vanilla, We have both outdoor and indoor zoo's here and we are all equal members.

    Squatlo, We do actually have a few raccoons around here, but they are shy and only come out at night. One broke out of a live trap I had. Do they offer Gideon's Bible at your Witness Protection System?