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Monday, October 18, 2010

Murder in the Henhouse

Chapter One

I wrote this piece last February--
About dusk I  saw a raccoon in a tree near the backdoor. Suddenly frightened for my hens, I did not chase him away. I had a plan. I was going to trap him. Not only do I have to finish setting up the two new Rubbermaid containers for my hens to live in before it gets completely dark, NOW I must get the trap from the basement. It is spooky down there, so I want to get that done while there is still light through the basement windows.

By the time I dragged the live trap from the basement, and set up the hens’ new house, the hens impatiently wanted to know where they were sleeping for the night. They have a way of making a long, drawn-out, bwaaaack, bwaaaack that just tears my heart out. They are begging the best they know how and to the only person who can help them.

Today is the day I purchased new Rubbermaid boxes for a nest and sleeping quarters, so they are wary when all is in place.

This was new, so I left them rubbernecking the structure—two Rubbermaid storage boxes with holes in the side, stacked on top of each other and a plastic lawn table. They were confused about not being able to roost on top of the boxes that were up against the tarp.

It’s getting dark and I have to prepare for the capture of a dangerous animal. On the internet is an account of raccoons attacking a woman. My hens won't have a chance.

It’s been about 7 years since I used the trap to capture feral cats, so I had to figure out how to lock it open. All the time I watch for a raccoon, ready to attack it to defend myself and my four hens. And, it is getting cold. I must go to a friend’s house.

Oh, I am so relieved, proud, and frightened. After helping a friend with his computer, finding it pretty much ruined, shopping with him for a computer at WM after midnight, setting up the new comp, and driving home, I was appalled I had a raccoon in my live trap. TADA

This is a very small, meek raccoon. Not sure it really was a raccoon since they are supposed to be vicious, I came inside and got a flashlight. I could see the mask without the light, but I just had to get closer. The raccoon looked up sweetly and so tenderly at me, and I talked to it nicely, telling him he was taking a trip because he could not live here. Wondering why it was not vicious, I got a stick to touch it. No sooner than I had gotten the stick to its fur did it whirl, growl, hiss, and lunge at me. Well, after too much caffeine that sure gets the heart to racing a bit more.

This a powerful, hunter feeling, like I have conquered the wild and protected my homestead and all the animals that depend on me...you know, all four hens. Catching eight feral cats in a week was nothing compared to this! I am woman; hear me roar. And, watch me retreat when the raccoon roars, so to speak.

I love my trap.

I called the police. They came. They looked and said, “Yes, it is a raccoon.” The adrenaline was pumping in my body. Then, for some reason backup came—yes, two police cars and four police officers are here at about 2:30 a.m., looking at my raccoon. They seemed impressed and told me to call Animal Control in the morning.

This is time for a celebration. The feeling could be no stronger than if I had brought down a mastodon, single-handedly. Caffeine does this to one, I suppose. Maybe I was right to give it up. Tonight, I indulged in one too many Coke! Note to Linda---->never buy Cokes with caffeine.

Really, I read of other people's losses in the raising of chickens and feel I have been so lucky.

Now, I must go see if the girls are really alive and make sure they don't sleep in the laying room. Never in all my life did I think I would be going out in the middle of the night, shifting chickens to their bedroom in order to teach them where to sleep!

Chapter Two

On October 15, two nights ago, I saw a raccoon in the yard AGAIN. So, I set up my live trap. Next morning--nothing. Next night--nothing. I went out today to find a hen, murdered in the nest. Appallingly, two of the three remaining hens walked over her mutilated, half-eaten body to lay two eggs.

I was so stunned when I saw the body that it did not register what I was seeing! I got the eggs and put them into my pocket. THEN, my head was swimming briefly until sadness and anger set in.

Chessie was dead. She loved to jump onto the door and try to stick when I went to feed them. She had two broken toes and limped when she ran.

The trap will be inside the chicken's 10' x 10' enclosure. There will be raw hamburger for the murderer. Then, tomorrow, the villain dies! It is against the law to relocate raccoons, so no bleeding heart will try to save a raccoon life!

It is so sad.

The poor chicken has been removed. And, the girls are dusting themselves in the yard.

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