Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chicken and Coon Tales

On Monday afternoon I was surprised to see a hen with some newly-hatched chicks in the yard.  What a sneaky mom!  Where in the heck had she hidden that nest? By the time I got my camera the family had disappeared and I could not find them.
Yesterday I figured out that the nest was somewhere within the big circle of pampas grass in the front yard and that the hen has four chicks. She must have  been scared away from the barn by the raccoon episode and chosen a safer place for her nest, even if it was outdoors.

Last night as Rog and I were working  into the evening, he noticed a raccoon cross the road into the woods along our pasture. Oh great - we just got rid of one raccoon and now we will have another!
Then, when we were eating our supper (at 9:30 p.m.)  out on the patio, the dogs started going bonkers barking at the barn. I had a hunch the raccoon had gotten into the barn. Rog walked over and opened the door and sure enough,  the coon stared down at him from the hayloft.

It was too late to phone anyone, but I went to Facebook and saw that our friend and neighbor Betsy happened to be online so I sent her a message telling her the raccoon was in the barn and asking if we could borrow a shotgun. She  responded " Don is on his way - you  just made his whole day."  Long story short, at 11 p.m. Don and Rog tracked the raccoon through the barn and shot him (and an innocent bystanding wool rug.)  I feel sad about killing the raccoon, but it was either him or our chickens, We had just lost 4 hens and 15 chicks to a raccoon, possibly  THIS raccoon.
Rog had laid the raccoon by the woodpile but I didn't have time to deal with it right away this morning.  Curiously, Nutmeg stretched out next to the body and lay there all morning. Hard to fathom - was she guarding it? Maybe she was sad that her raccoon hunting adventures were over.

After examining it, I am sure it is the same raccoon we trapped a couple weeks ago. I called Mark and he confirmed that the trapped raccoon had gotten away, so it was likely him.
It is a relief to have that coon gone. Our vulnerable baby chicks, the young duckings and gosling, and the turkey poults and broiler chicks that will arrive in a couple weeks will all have a chance to grow up now.

Thanks, Don, for coming to our rescue so late at night!  What kind of farmers don't own a shotgun? Perhaps Rog will get one for Father's Day.


Maureen said...

Just got a tip from Ida Vessel, who got the word from an Amish friend, that raccoons hate talcum powder. Been having raccoon issues myself, so I dusted a vulnerable area with the talc. I do believe is is working.

Gardeningbren said...

Been having racoon troubles ourselves. One coming quite early after supper when we are out in the back yard. We got the trap ready...course, no sign of him now ;-)

Jocelyn said...

Good for you. That little beggar took enough of your chickens already.

We don't own a shotgun, either. I have a pellet gun. Someday I know I'll be investing, though.

Woody said...

They always return to the table for easy meals.

Snooks said...

What a sweet picture of the mama hen and the four babies following behind her. Glad you got the raccoon and everyone can be safe now.

@ 3Beeze Homestead

Susan said...

Mom lost the yellow chick. They were out all morning together yesterday, but as a big storm approached i went to shoo them inside and there were only three chicks. I couldn't find the yellow chick anywhere, and it never showed up. Maybe a hawk got it? A rooster?

katiegirl said...

Sorry for the racoon, but it got enough chicken dinners! I am not much of a gun person, but I do like my youth model 20 gauge shot gun. It's easy to use and doesn't have too much of a kick!

Snooglerat said...

Just found your blog! Love love the last pic with the baby chick in tow. I hate to kill anything but I have to protect my livestock as well. Can't wait to read more!