Monday, August 10, 2015

Aint No Rocket

Mornings, as a rule, should not begin with picking up entrails but some just do. When you raise livestock you sign up for deadstock. Today was one of those days. When the border collies and I headed outside for morning chores I was busy feeding the sheep and horse on one side of the house while the dogs were heading over to the chicken tractors. (Chicken tractors are a lot more fun to watch for a puppy compared to the galumphing sheep and pony. Think pinball vs bowling.) As I made my way to join them I was taken aback to see Friday with a fat little chick in her mouth. I had heard no odd squawks or squeaks and surely would have if she had taken the bird alive. I yelled out "Leave it!" in the most demonstrative tone I could muster and she ran off, dropping the dead 3-week old chicken. I ran up to the chick tractor and saw five dead birds in various stages of having been eaten and a few stuck in the chicken wire, killed while being pulled through the inch-wide hexagons.


Raccoons were back. Luckily the twenty adult birds that were headed to be slaughtered by Ben Shaw the very next morning were fine. Those were birds already promised to friends and neighbors. These birds, the chicks, were for one other friend and myself, and I had counted a loss of a dozen. Welcome to homesteading: sometimes things die.

I set up the Hav-a-hart trap right away, setting it behind the chick tractor with one of the bodies of the fallen. Then I went into protection mode. Setting up lights and a radio for the night, as well as setting my alarm for a late night watch. The .22 was loaded and by the door with a spot light ready for Half Past Dark. I would not lose these birds I worked so hard to raise to a varmint freeloader. Nope.

I sleep on the second floor of my house all summer in a bedroom with a box fan in the window. I wonder if that fan is the reason I didn't wake up for the tussle? But not even Gibson heard it (who sleeps next to me like we're an old married couple, gods help the man who ends up here and has to fight for that stop), and him not hearing it makes me even more certain it was the raccoons. Foxes take one animal at a time after a huge noiseburst and run off with their prey. Weasels sneak in and kill as much as they can, sucking blood out of toothmarks in necks like little vampires. Fisher cats pull horses up into trees and perform black masses... but raccoons, they pull and tear like a kid lose in a ball pit. This was raccoons.

I hope they bring their Fantastic Mr. Fox A Game tonight, because it is on!


Blogger AuntieC said...

I know it costs a bit more than chicken wire but hardware cloth really does keep the raccoons out. I have raccoons try to get into my runnot infrequently but they haven't been successful.

August 10, 2015 at 8:27 PM  

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