Trapping Critters

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I live in the country now. When you are a city slicker, you go to heroic lengths to save an animal. Moving more to a country environment, you have to move toward another way of thinking. I understand the whole ‘farm’ thing. You raise animals for food. You nurture them, and protect them, and then you kill them and eat them. Though I understand this with my head…my heart has not yet made that leap.

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Our chickens are for eggs, and we’ve not killed one yet for food. Add to that, they are my beloved pets. They are all named. I usually go to heroic measures to save a chicken if it gets sick. I did allow Bud to kill one that was suffering, once. We’d picked it up from someone on Craigslist. When we got it home, we discovered it was sick, and none of my usual treatments made it any better. It was obvious it would not make it. After a sleepless night of listening to it wheezing and gurgling, I couldn’t stand to let it suffer anymore. Bud took it down the trail and put it out of it’s misery.

Predators are always a risk when you keep chickens. So far, we’ve been blessed in that none of our chickens have been injured or killed by predators. We’ve had a family of racoons that we’ve seen off and on, mostly at night. The automatic sensor on the light to the hen house comes on to alert us that they are out there.

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Our current hen house is very sturdy. (For anyone new thinking our chickens live in a palace, only the left side of the building is the hen house.)

There is no way any predators could burrow underneath, because the hen house is on a slab of cement. The hen house has lots of windows, though, which we keep open in the summer. They are covered in hardware cloth (a type of metal mesh), but it is stapled on with a staple gun. Racoons are tenacious. Though they mostly come out at night, we have seen them one or two times during the day along the road when we first moved here. We can’t take any chances by just letting them hang out and eat leftover chicken scratch and food. We have all of the ingredients that racoons love…water, food and CHICKENS. They are tenacious critters.

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To the point of the story, Bud has already shot two or three racoons. I didn’t like to have a critter killed, and Bud said he didn’t enjoy it, either. I stayed in the house while he shot them, and I didn’t look at them after he killed them. I will say that he got all of them with one or two shots! I was very proud of that!

Because our ground here is so rocky, he had to use a pick axe to dig a hole to bury the dead the first time. The second time, he threw the dead racoon over a fence, hoping that a scavenger would eat it. As far as we know, it was eaten. The third one was shot and apparently wandered off and died. We didn’t find it until it was practically liquified and the smell! Oh, the smell. It was so horrible. The putrid scent even invaded the hen house.

I finally followed the scent one day, and found the liquified critter, covered in flies a ways behind the hen house in some brush by the side of the road. I poured the small amount of cat litter I had on top of it, and then dug up some of the gravel and dirt from the side of the road to cover it the rest of the way. Then, I vowed to get a live trap, and I made good on it the next time we went to Home Depot.

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The first few nights we baited the trap, we caught nothing, but the bait was gone in the morning. Bud got some hardware cloth and wrapped it around the end. Apparently they were reaching in through the holes in the cage to get the bait without going inside. The wire mesh did the trick. The next morning, I found a very scared racoon caught in our trap.

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Grace was not amused.

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…and neither were the chickens

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The racoon was so cute… but if it comes between my chickens or a racoon killing them, I’ll always side with my chickens. Seeing that cute face, I was glad that we decided get the live trap. Maybe I’ll never be a true farm girl.

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We took the scared critter several miles down the road to another creek, and set it free. When we opened the cage, it immediately scampered down into the culvert underneath the road. This looks like a wonderful place for a new home, don’t you think?

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On the drive back home, we saw a flock of wild turkeys in a field. They were huge! I wish I had gotten a better shot of them. It is so cool to see wild animals like that. One day when I was walking down the road, I was deep in thought. My concentration was shattered when I heard a loud, “OINK!” I looked up, and there was a brown, hairy pig and about five piglets. Half of the piglets went one way, and the rest went with the mama the other direction. I was shocked! Wild pigs were the last thing I expected to see. It took a while for my heartbeat to settle down. I had heard there were wild pigs out here, and that the neighbors had seen some, but we hadn’t ever seen any of them.ย  I was sorry that I didn’t have my camera with me on that walk. Here is a picture of the wild turkeys. You have to squint really hard to see them.

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If I’m honest, I’m sort of looking forward to ‘One-Shot-Bud’ killin’ of one of these once the season is legal.

I love living out here so much! Even with all of the things here in the house that still need to be repaired or fixed, I love it here 100-fold more than our last place. In fact, just this morning, I told Bud that I would still love living here even if we only had a tent to live in. Critters, bugs, dirt, long, bumpy gravel road to get to pavement…I love it all. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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8 thoughts on “Trapping Critters

  1. I need a trap for the armadillos that tear up our yard and beds! Keep those chickens safe! We have hawks that dive into our yard to get squirrels, then sit in our trees to eat them. We never let our Gracie go into the yard by herself!

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    1. We’ve seen some hawks from time to time, but thankfully, have not had much of a problem with them. Maybe it’s because our property is mostly tree covered and they can’t see the chickens too well? I don’t know. Anyway, I’m grateful we’ve not had much problem with them. I’ve heard horror stories about chicken owners who have had to deal with hawks.

      We have an armadillo out there somewhere, too. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We have the holes.

      You are smart not to let Gracie go out without supervision.

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  2. Dan has no hesitation in killin’ critters; but, he respects the fact that I prefer to let them live if we can. The only critters we kill hereabouts are black (and brown) widows. IWe also kill scorpions if they get inside. Otherwise, we leave those alone. f we see a poisionous snake, we probably will kill those too. I know we can have rattlesnakes and corals here.

    Abby Gail kills and eats grasshoppers. She is so graceful (and fast) when she hunts — “flies” through the air knocking them to the ground. She once caught one in the air with her mouth! It was unbelievable. Dan would not have believed me if he hadn’t seen it himself.

    I think we may have had an armadillo here briefly because BIG GIGANTIC holes kept appearing in the ground. But, it moved on to another neighbor’s yard. (Saw hole in the ground on the way to the mailbox.).

    Even though our house is incomplete (but livable conditions), I love the fact that we have an acre of land and it feels wonderful to be home. I am so happy that you love your place too.

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    1. Abby Gail is a RIOT! ๐Ÿ™‚ I would have loved to have seen her catch that grasshopper.

      I think we have an armadillo, too because we have a lot of cone shaped small holes around here. My mother use to tell me that they carried leprosy. I always thought that sounded strange, but I just recently read that there has been a spike in leprosy cases in Florida and they believe it’s due to the armadillos. I don’t know if you have to eat them to catch it or what, but I think I’ll keep setting my trap! >:-()

      I’m so glad for you, too, that you found a place you love. I remember the stress you went through to find it! I often think back to the places we considered (and almost bought) and it really is scary to think about! I don’t think we would have been as happy, safe, content, etc., with the other places. I think it just goes to show that God’s timing is perfect, and sometimes He knows better than we do what will be for our best.

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  3. We live trap the critters at our house too…only squirrels and chipmunks, but they eat my expensive bird seed…all of it! I put it out there for the birds and by golly the birds are going to have it! The animals are let go at the cemetery with all their family about two miles away.

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    1. That’s really interesting, G. I had no idea you were trapping critters, too!Poor little squirrels and chipmunks being displaced into the scary cemetery “…with all of their family…” LOL! I understand though…I use to hate the squirrels getting into my bird feeder, too, when we lived in the city.

      We have caught three more raccoons since this post (!) and I was thinking as we set the latest one free this morning, that they were probably having a family reunion. Then I was brought out of my thoughts when Bud asked me if I thought they found one another after we set them free.

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  4. Kara, I really like how your barn turned out! I’ve been so busy I hadn’t been blogging well lately…
    I remember raccoons how they can take out a whole flock, when we lived in MS we had real bad luck with them coons, we trapped them too, they are sooo cute , but I had to over look the cuteness because they were a big problem for us. I cross my fingers that nothing gets my chickens here, been lucky so far, I’ve had to move the stones back around the edges several times, something moves them…..
    Also my neighbors had a big flock and they say half their chickens have been killed by a fox this summer. I hope he stays away from here…
    Anyways great pictures and great post!
    How’s the hiking going?
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hi Kim. I know you are very busy. I’ve just been kind of laying low with my blog, lately, too.

      Before we got the building, we had our chickens in a dilapidated old shed at night until we could get something more stable. I worried about them every night, but as I locked them up each night, I asked God to send his angels to encamp round about the shed and to protect my chickens. I still pray that way, and we’ve not lost one to a predator. If I can remember, I’ll also say a prayer for your chickens as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ve been training for my hike. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hiking with the loaded backpack now, and I usually go 6-9 miles almost every day depending on how I feel that day. Several of our neighbors have stopped as I was walking on the road and asked me about the backpack and what I was doing, and it was kind of an icebreaker…met a few I had not yet met, so that was good.

      I’m glad you stopped by, and I enjoyed reading your blog today. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you have a good weekend, too!

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