I messed up a little bit. Yesterday’s quote post was supposed to be today’s and therefore that “special post” I was talking about is going up tomorrow, not today. Just hold on to your horses a little longer.
Tuesday we heard a great ruckus in the henhouse. ALL (and I mean all) the chickens were screeching and squawking as loudly as they could and wouldn’t stop. I’d never heard them do this before so I went out back to see what was up. I figured that maybe there was a local cat in the woods near the coop or maybe that freaky neighborhood kid was milling about.
Instead what I saw absolutely floored me. Walking around the enclosed coop was a large and rather plump raccoon. At 4:30 in the afternoon.
In case you didn’t know, raccons like chickens. They like them so much that they invite them over to dinner, breakfast, and lunch.
This was not good. I grabbed the first weapon I could find which was a large rake with a bright red plastic head and proceeded to advance toward the raccoon while yelling.
Note – the part of the raccoon is being played by a double. No animals were harmed (or frightened to death) in the filming of this reenactment.
The raccoon (let’s just call him Rocky and get it over with) slowly turned, looked at me, laughed in my general direction and then continued to case the chicken joint. This was not good. Raccoons are supposed to be nocturnal, they are supposed to be afraid of advancing humans wielding red plastic rakes, they are not supposed to laugh at you and they are not supposed to have eyes so rheumy that one was almost shut.
What we had was a sick or injured wild animal. Not the best thing to have in your backyard when you have 6 kids all home from school who are also in the backyard in order to see the “ahh, adorable little raccoon.”
Years ago one of my babies had been bitten by a flying squirrel and that boy ended up (at age 18 months) having to get all of those rabies shots. Suffice it to say, it was not fun for anyone. I wasn’t going to let that ever happen again under my watch.
Using my best “listen-and obey-me-NOW” mom voice, I told the kids to stay on the porch while I tried to shoo the beast away from my chickens.
Rocky climbed the tree by the henhouse. Realizing that there was literally nothing to be gained by this, he then climbed down (toward my direction), meandered around the henhouse some more and then went off to our side woods where he climbed up and down 3 other trees. In the final tree, Rocky found a squirrels’ nest.
Squirrels nests are made of twigs and leaves and are intended to hold the weight of squirrels which is roughly equal to that of a wet kleenex. Rocky was a large and uncoordinated mass of uncomprehending fur. The next thing we heard was a large crash as the squirrel nest toppled from the far reaches of a tall pine. (Just as an FYI, tall pines are called that for a reason.)
The most amazing thing happened next, the squirrels nest developed a pair of eyes and then got up from the ground and started moving.
Yup that darn raccoon had fallen from the top of a pine tree to the ground and just like a Timex watch still remained ticking. He did have to shake his head a few times but it didn’t look like he had injured much more than his pride. Apparently though, enough sense was (literally) knocked into him because he managed to get up and finally high-tail it out to our neighbor’s heavily wooded yard where we then lost track of him.
There’s not much you can do about predators to your chickens except to check the fences and locks on a daily basis making sure there are no loose areas or undue wear and reassure them that you’ll always have their back. In this particular case, we’ve also warned our kids about the raccoon (no matter how tame he might seem – you NEVER go up to him) and we’ve also alerted our neighbors who have small dogs (which raccoons also like to invite home for dinner.)
We may see Rocky again, we may not. But be assured Rocky my friend, if you ever decide to come visit our chickens again, know that I’ve got my red plastic rake ready by the back door just waiting for you.