Monday, May 3, 2010
Murder most vile....in the coop!
When my children were young and we would sit reading books together, one of our favorites was "Wait Till The Moon Was Full" by the dear author Margaret Wise Brown. Garth Williams sweet illustrations of forest animals frolicking together in play endearing us to the gentleness of them living in such harmony. The story of a little raccoon who wants to go out into the night and see what there is is told by his mother he must wait till the moon is full. So gentle and calm it goes.
Soft in the night
In the bright moonlight
Rabbits run all through the night
And never bump into each other
In the Full of the Moon
When the Moon is Full.
And the cat and the cow
And the fish and bull
Dance an animal dance
When the moon is full
With the owl and squirrel
And the skunk and gull.
And a little bird cries
From over the hill.
"Whip poor Will,
Whip poor Will."
My little raccoon
Be still, be still
And wait till the moon is full.
Yes, such a sweet, gentle book. I loved this book. Of course in those times we had been aware of raccoons but never in a bad way. We had one morning found little muddy paw prints leading out from the cat food and water dishes to our cat door. We thought that was cute how he/she had cleaned up after his/her meal but realizing that our dogs could have encountered an unwelcome visitor took to keeping the cat door closed for awhile at night than to take our chances of a raccoon running around our house in the middle of the night with dogs chasing it, barking and waking us all up. No, we would remember the visit and stop it from happening again.
Then we moved to our country home where there were skunks, raccoons, mice, coyotes, rats, and snakes. Still we didn't bother them and they didn't bother us. Till we brought chickens into our menagerie.
Hhhhhmmmm....on April 28, it was a full moon........
My Love heard a lot of hen distress as we were getting ready to go to bed. He nightly goes out to check on the hens, turn off any outside lights and lock up. He knew that they were not out of their coop, that they were locked in as we had been cautious upon having seen a coyote a couple of times in as many weeks. That is enough for us to take care on letting them out to enjoy the yard. Those coyote sightings had been in the late afternoon, just across our driveway, rather than hearing their yips in the middle of the night.
He was gone for awhile which made me think this was a bad sign. I turned down our bed, went to brush my teeth and he came inside telling me there had been an attack. What?
Once upon a time in the dark of the moon there was a little raccoon.......
The sad sinking feeling of a terrible event hit me. No, no, not another hen? My Love felt it was the same hen who was attacked less that a month ago by a coyote that he was able to scare off. The poor hen was missing quite a few feathers and was clearly loopy after her almost being coyote dinner. My next thought was but how? If the coop was locked how did this happen? We have wired the lower two thirds of the coop in triple layers of wire (due to the amazing, gross, attacks by raccoons).
That raccoon had chosen to climb up the wire where the hen was roosting on the top, a less than comfy spot to me, on aboard above the door. Now why the hen chose to roost here I don't understand as there are far more desirable spots to roost inside the hen house or in the coop yard. Yet that is where she apparently was when the raccoon yanked her through the wire. Where the wire up there is not ultra small but we never would have imagined a raccoon would try to get a hen high up. Of course we would never have thought of a hen just choosing to sit while a raccoon scales the wire perimeter, continues to sit and doesn't fly down to the safety of the coop but sits and gets yanked through the wire to her horrible death.
But wait, wait till the bright moonlight
Bursts on the night all silvery white,
Wait till the moon is full.
It was bloody above the door and all down the door. She was gone except for her feathers scattered all over the ground inside and outside the coop. All the hens were squawking their fear, sharing their nightmare of an evening amongst each other and to all the neighborhood.
How could such cute little furry animals do such a vile deed? I have to give them credit that they are smart. To have thought about climbing up to get at the hen took some planning, yes premeditated murder it was.
We are down two hens in one month. Our last Big Red died of unknown causes. My Love found her dead in the coop one morning whereas the day before she had been active and busy with her hen friends. Such is life here in our what I like to think, our peaceful home. Safe for us but deadly for chickens. I think we need guard dogs, barber wire, spot lights that come on with movement, water blasting, etc......maybe then the hens will sleep peacefully!