Posted by: unlikelygrad | March 2, 2009

argh

I feel awful. I don’t know whether I feel like crying or throwing up.

The neighborhood raccoon made off with one of our chickens last night. It’s come by before; it even got in the coop once, but the chickens always made enough of a racket that we could chase it off before it killed anything. Last night it was completely silent, and then–out of the blue–my husband heard a death squawk. He said it sounded terrible. (I was asleep; he was up doing taxes, on the computer, which is only about 25 feet from the chicken coop. So they really weren’t making noise before the death squawk, or he would have heard it.)

He woke me up and I ran out just in time to see the raccoon climb up the tree with a white bundle in its mouth. Eventually it ran to the fence and off to destinations unknown.

I felt terrible.

Maybe for farm folks this is par for the course, but we only have six chickens–can’t really have much more than that on our small lot–and the loss of one is heavily felt. Since we have so few, we’ve named them all and come to know their individual personalities. I think the one he got was Leif the Clucky–our speed demon, enthusiastic but fairly intelligent (as chickens go, anyway). Poor Leif.

I feel terrible. Did I already say that? I don’t think I said it enough. I feel awful.

I wish I had a 22 so I could have shot the coon, but (1) the neighbors’ houses are only 40-50 feet away and (2) it’s illegal (!!!) in California to trap or kill a raccoon without a trapper’s license, because they are “fur-bearing animals”. Dumb bureaucratic state–around here, coons are a huge nuisance and no one can do anything about them.

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Responses

  1. How’s the wiring set up on the coop?

    Depending on the set up what I like to do is wire the entire chicken coop floor. It’s a lot of work but after two massacres, I was super pissed. I dig out the bottom, lay down wire – it has to come up out of the ground so you can pinch it to the standing wire and create a really good seamless connection. At night I use a mosquito netting top with cans for an alarm system (if weight is pushed then a set of cans rattles).

    As for the raccoon – poison. I lock every other critter up I own and set out poison traps when I get tired of it all. There is no ‘Raccoon Poison’ – home concocted is the best. I like antifreeze but its getting harder and harder to find the lethal stuff. It’s illegal but it doesn’t make a bang or crack. The only problem is neighbors dogs, cats, kids etc… But if that’s not a huge issue I soak a piece of meat in it, set it out and wait. That’s if I don’t have the option of shooting them (any raccoon seen in daylight here, gets whacked with some kind of slug – we have a huge rabies problem here).

    If that doesn’t work, get a have-a-heart trap, a big tub of water big enough to set it in, and trap them. Yes, it’s illegal but if you have a shed or some type of garage Big Brother won’t come looking. Just don’t buy the trap with a credit card ;)… When you catch them it’s not a game of catch and release – you drown them in said tub of water. Furriers do it that way too but then you take the damn thing. Granted, I live in the boondocks so, this is all very applicable; we’re not policed at all.

    For feral dogs I use the “bacon grease on big cut up chunks of a few sponges” tactic as dogs cannot digest sponges or high quantities of fat. Yes, it’s awful, but I couldn’t get out of my own house (it attacked me – ripped the bottom portion of my jeans OFF). So I chucked a well soaked bacon grease sponge out the window; it ate that, ran off, dropped dead in one of our fields.

    Small awful tidbits. Best bet is to get the birds a safer coop (though with ‘coons nothing is really safe).

    Good luck!


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