I have to admit, when the furry little creature's back appeared scurrying through a tunnel I had uncovered in the compost, I squealed.
The husband is replacing fence posts, and one that needs replacing happens to be behind the newer compost bin I put in the garden last fall, necessitating a move. I lifted the bin and had a nice form of mostly dry leaves left behind! So I began by just grabbing arm loads to transfer into the bin in its new location. As I worked my way down things were a little more sloppy, so I switched to a shovel with one hand balancing the load on top. Almost to the bottom, and thank goodness I didn't spear him with the shovel! Of course now I want that thing OUT of there, and out of our yard.
I've seen evidence of voles in our yard before - tunnels in the melting snow, or in the top layer of sod after the snow melted. Several years ago, come to think of it, a similar episode of stirring up a creature in the bin... I guessed that time that that was enough, because I never found one in the bin again... until yesterday. I did see one slip under the fence when I was messing with the compost a few days previously. I hoped he (she?) was just passing through, and that my presence was enough to discourage any return.
But this thing was very reluctant to depart it's partly opened tunnel. Uh-oh... does that mean... Oh I HOPE there is not a nest of babies! The shovel did finally encourage it to leave the tunnel and hide under some loose leaves in the compost pile next to where the bin was. But I was still reluctant to dig much more into what was left of the bin contents...
I guess what I need to do is get out there on a more regular basis and keep stirring things up. But on top of the wish not to send the shovel through the gut of a rodent, didn't I hear that these little things are now carrying the Hantavirus, which is shed in their urine and feces? Should I wear a mask when stirring up compost dust?
Anyone have a cat for hire? I won't be chasing the felines from our yard any more!