Friday, April 1, 2011

Chaos in the Coop

We've been pretty lucky until now with our laying hens. Twice over the last year we've been home when a hawk has swooped down and pinned a hen to the ground. Chloe saved the first one and I the second from certain death. But our luck ran out last week when a raccoon took one hen when we carelessly left the little chicken door open one night. The truth is, though, that the little chicken door wouldn't have kept a raccoon out anyway; they're incredibly resourceful when they're hungry. After a second killing I made a serious effort to keep the raccoon out of the barn. I still don't know how it got in early last Sunday morning. I found it in the coop in the process of devouring another hen while the rest of the hens were making quite a racket.
This raccoon was a special case. During our first meeting I noticed that one of its hind legs was bloody and hanging in a unusual way. Maybe it had been hit by a car. We stared at each other for a while as it clung to the inside of the chicken wire of the coop, and then at my prompting it exited the way it had come in. I watched it slowly make its way across the garden thinking that it wasn't going to live much longer given its condition. I was wrong about that. I would imagine that killing our chickens was the easiest way for it to eat; it certainly wasn't fast enough to catch anything else. So last Sunday morning I forced it out of the coop, and, strangely, it wandered out and directly into the greenhouse. I followed it with a shovel and that was it for the raccoon. It didn't even bother to try to escape.