My husband Dan came into the house at 6 a.m. this morning – he usually works until 7:00 or 8:00 - then has his bowl of Chex, fresh fruit, and a wee nap.
“Mmmm, we have a problem” he says.
All sorts of things crossed my mind – Spontaneous combustion? Collapse? Busted? Burning? Dying? Bleeding?
“Is that blood on your shirt?” I asked (and not for the first time).
“There’s something killing the chickens!”
He immediately set up two catch ‘em alive cage traps.
It’s a shame we can’t put them out beforehand as a precaution. All we snag are the fun and furry farm cats– and once they learn that’s where the sardines and herring are at, the traps are useless.
Night One: Giant marshmallows as bait (cat-proofing).
One raccoon was in the cage that morning. And just so you know, we are not releasing any alleged livestock-killers– they will be going away to “live on a farm”.
Night Two: The enticement is now chicken/lobster canned cat food because that’s the vilest smell I can think of. My cats won’t touch I, so the farmcats may leave it alone, too.
Dan stayed up all night in his comfy chair waiting for the perpetrators to reveal themselves. He had the TV tuned to the weather channel with the sound turned off.
I got up around 1 a.m.
He said, “Do you hear that?”
I answered, “That’s my stomach”. It really was. I was hungry.
A faint “Wooo, wooo, bark-bark, wooo!” sounded in the dark. He ran out with a pistol, and came back right away.
“Did you trap a beagle?” I said.
“No, that’s just the neighbors dog having issues.”
Two skanky teenage raccoons were in the traps.
Day 3: Nothing. No deadstock, but the bait was missing.
Two very large raccoons were spotted on the feed storage bunker in broad daylight. (How many are there? Are they diseased?)
Day 4: Dan came in at 6:30 a.m. with no clothes on!
“What happened?” I said.
“I got sprayed by a trapped skunk and I’m burning my clothes. I can’t smell anything! My nose hairs hurt.”
He used a propane torch to flame his favorite hoodie– the one he bought in New Orleans. I doubt he’ll ever get over it.
At this point, there are only six eggs to gather – the two of us, and the chickens are traumatized.
Only sixteen remain from the original forty layers, and one is living in exile under the porch, nesting under the hostas.
Day 6: Skunk #4 was caught this morning. Good riddance!