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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grace was not amused.
…and neither were the chickens
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.
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?
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. 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.
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.