My hens get very nervous, skittish when the raccoon is around. This evening, about five-thirty I decided to put the hens up early to avoid an early meeting with coons. I was going to feed them carrots.
Not today. I tossed a little piece of carrot to Patsy Cline. She would have had to walk toward me to get it. She refused, like she was afraid of me. When I tossed the bit of carrot, Patsy Cline startled, walked around, looked everywhere, tried to dodge my foot, started the "danger" sound alarm. Thelma was already on high alert. So, I quickly went to the back yard, crossed to the pen. Patsy Cline followed. Thelma seemed frozen on the other side of the yard. Into the pen I dropped the carrots I diced for them. They want their carrots diced. Patsy Cline came right behind me even though she was skittish. She went into the pen and started eating. Thelma was forty feet across the yard near that back corner of the house.
She ran toward me with all her feathers on her head and neck standing straight out. Her body feathers and wings were out and fluffed. She looked strange and frizzled. Then, she raised her wings and shook herself. I have never seen a hen do that. She looked like a fighting cock. She would not go in the pen, Patsy Cline rushed out of the pen and stood with Thelma when she saw Thelma running all fluffed out..
A movement on the other side of the yard caught my attention. A huge raccoon was walking slowing right where we all three had been two minutes before. Now, I believe that the raccoon was right behind me on the other side of the porch, maybe just peeking from out of the crawl space. I watched as the raccoon slowly climbed the fence.
Since the hens were not in their pen, not interested in going in, upset, skittish, I knew I would not be able to get them in soon. Moving steadily and without too much noise or arm movements, I went to the house, grabbed my camera and the box of oats that was almost finished. When I took it to the pen, the shrik shrik bit of oats shaking in the canister caused the hens to startle. Once I got into the pen, they responded to my shaking of the oats onto the ground. As I left the pen, both hens startled, jumping, clucking, walking about and warily approaching the oats again.
Closing the door, I was at last feeling secure about their safety. I am afraid that one day my presence will not frighten a raccoon away, that a raccoon will just run and kill a hen with me present. At that point, the raccoon and I would tangle.
Once they were safe, I turned my attention to the trap. My body is not well enough for all this hauling of the cage. Plus, I carried the pipe because I am afraid of the raccoon. As I went behind the house, from one side to the other, I saw the raccoon come back over the fence, walk along the rail near the top of the fence, and lost the sight of him behind the privet. Now, I always put the cage the last place I saw the raccoon. But, I was going to have to go under the tree.
Yes, my imagination is getting the better of me, but I envisioned the raccoon jumping on me and shredding me. So, I warily walked under the privet, put down the cage and retreated to get the bait--watermelon and the foil around it, removed and crumpled into a shiny ball.
Raccoons are fascinated by shiny objects. Foil works as bait, even without food. They investigate and cross the trigger for the trap.
All this exhausted me. But, Thelma and Patsy Cline are safe for one more night. I feel so sorry for them when they are frightened. So ends Monday.
If you can add anything to my raccoon knowledge or I have misjudged raccoons, let me know. Do you or have you had raccoons bothering your chickens?