Animal husbandry

IMG_4305We lost one of our Black Star pullets to a raccoon this week.  Although it could have been a skunk, I suspect it was a ‘coon, as  I was also saddened to discover it looks like a ‘coon got to the nest box full of finches, and I don’t think the skunk could have reached them.  The finch parents have been busily feeding them and chittering at us if we get too close, and the baby birds have gotten louder and louder.  We’ve been waiting for them to fledge, but then, one morning we could not hear them.  Tuesday, Dan checked the box, which looked as though it had been messed with, and there were no birds inside.  All gone.  Sigh.

To avoid troubles with predators, we carefully built a very secure coop, fenced in a large area for the girls to scratch about in, and are sure to keep all their food securely stored in our barn in metal garbage cans.  But last Saturday evening we got home after dark, went back to close the coop door, and discovered one of the girls had been dragged over the fence.

The next night, we baited our trap and set it out.  In the morning, we discovered a skunk.  The next day, we caught a very unhappy raccoon, and another was in the trap Tuesday, and a third today.  The second two coons appeared young, and the first coon behaved much more agressively, so I’m hoping it was the mother but I’m not an expert.  All four animals have been sent to a better zipcode.  It is one of the difficult choices you have to make when you decide to become responsible for livestock.

Don’t be fooled bu the bright eyes and cute mask, racoons are determined predators, distantly related to bears.  If you could have seen coon number one trying to bite me through the trap you’d begin to understand what a problems these animals can be.  We will bait our trap one more time, in case another coon comes looking for a chicken dinner.  We’ve made sure to be here at dusk to close the girls up tight for the night and will continue to do so, and when we can’t, we will ask a neighbor pal to do so for us.

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13 Responses to “Animal husbandry”

  1. Laura Says:

    Around here we call that other zipcode “going to live with Steve” (he was a rooster we made into dinner). Between your coons and my bald eagle this is quite the week for chicken predators. Good luck keeping your girls safe!

    • Ali Says:

      Going to live with Steve… now that’s a good one! But I don’t think I want coon for dinner — although I do have a recipe: https://henbogle.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/good-maine-cooking/

      I read about the bald eagle attack — it gave me yet another thing to worry about, as they are plentiful here, too.

      I’m thinking some sort of low roofed shade structure that they can run to if need be would be a good addition. And so much more attractive than the blue tarp that is currently providing late in the day shade!

      • Laura Says:

        Ha! Well, everything that goes to live with Steve doesn’t get eaten. You know, the feral cat with mange living under the front porch, chasing the hens and screeching at me all the time…

        Luckily our girls can get under the shed for shade – although that wasn’t much help this week when we were in the high 90s. I might work on a shade roof for them before next year.

  2. mangochild Says:

    There is so much to think about and monitor, even with the most secure surroundings like you have. I hope you can get that coon.

  3. nruit Says:

    Ah, the predator thing… very difficult. A new zipcode that had better begin with 99…

  4. Ali Says:

    So far, no more signs of coon, although we did catch a drift of another skunk the other day, argh. And the girls are due to begin laying in mid August.

  5. julie Says:

    Now that I am a chicken owner/mother/lover I hold a different view in regards to racoons, pure evil. I pray you did not choose 04038 as the new address for those predator’s. I hope your girl’s will remain safe and sound now that the area has been “swept” clean.

  6. Weez Says:

    We’re having coon problems raiding our bird feeders, & with feed so expensive the coon must GO; I like the new zip code concept!!

    P.S. so far no tomato blight, but I am SO SICK OF THE RAIN!!!
    At this moment, THE SUN IS SHINING!!!

  7. Jeannie177 Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the racoons and skunks. I’m glad your giving them new zips! We had one climb up our kitchen window screen and onto our sunroom roof! I went to the window up stairs where I could tell Buddy where it was and he got it down. This big racoon comes every year. first by herself then she brings the kits with her. She seems harmless but I wouldn’t trust them one bit.

  8. Barbee' Says:

    I’m having raccoon problems, too. What did you use for bait?

  9. Barbee' Says:

    Thank you very much. Good idea. Although, here I will probably catch neighbors’ cats.

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