Saturday, May 22, 2010

Varmints vs. Chickens: Guess who's winning?

The other night, my friend Erika and her 3 children (1,6, & 8) were enjoying the evening air between downpours.  Their flock of 5 chickens had been sadly decimated by raccoons.  Normally, raccoons are stealthy, nocturnal prowlers.  But at six in the evening a big one decided to pay a visit to the chicken coop.

Before Erika and the kids' eyes, their one remaining chicken, Sunshine, was hauled off and devoured, head first.  As Erika described it, "We threw rocks and screamed.  The baby was mostly screaming because we were screaming.  We used all the rocks that had formed a cairn over Peeper's grave (Peeper was the first chicken to meet this fate).  My daughter screamed so loudly that the neighbors came running.  That raccoon didn't bat an eye.  The only good thing about it is that Sunshine was so lonely she had no will to live, anyway.  She had spent most of her time standing in the rain with her eyes shut.  There's nothing more pathetic than a depressed chicken.  She hadn't laid an egg in a week.  I went to inspect the damage: nothing left but feathers, feet, and a beak."

This is why I'm in favor of (a) large, noisy dogs who like chickens and hate raccoons:

Otto is out to get raccoons, squirrels, and unfortunately, the mailman.  He also thinks my neighbor's chihuahua may be a squirrel.  This is a problem, but you can see why he'd be confused....I never said he was bright, just well-intentioned.

And (b) backyard artillery.  Last week, I re-homed my 3 elderly chickens. They now reside at a farm-themed day-care.  They will not become soup, although they may be at risk of being hugged to death.   I have five new pullets in our coop.  I want them to survive and get to work laying eggs.  Today, we're going to the army surplus store.  We need floodlights, and a siren, maybe some bottle rockets.  Are those legal in Oregon?  Can we make some sort of blaster?  I may re-think my attitude about pit bulls, or at least get Otto one of those  macho, spiked collars. The hooligans are talking about booby traps:  watch your step.  By the end of the day,  I'm expecting a tiger pit.

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