Saturday, April 20, 2013

Peas, Feathers, and Raccoons

First the feathers on Monday I went out to lock up the chickens and it was already dark. Lock up the cochins and the Baby (who really isn't a baby anymore) who are all fine and go to lock up the big chicken side of the coop to find only the Cuckoo Maran hen roosting. No Red or the BA/Easter Egger hen. So I go out looking in trees to see if something startled them and they just roosted in the near by trees. And I wasn't seeing them there or in the old coop so I headed back to the coop to see Red walk towards me. So I get him into the coop and start looking for the BA/Easter Egger hen, who is pitch black, at night. And I'm not having any luck until I notice that Nick (our beagle, who was out on his chain) was at the edge of my flower garden smelling something through the fence. So I look in to see the BA/EE hen laying up against the fence trying to be as small as possible. So I step over the fence and go to grab her and she runs out of my hands (I accidentally pulled two little body feathers) and then finally grab her and she starts to scream. If you have never heard a chicken scream, it the loudest noise they can make and they only make it if something is hurting them or if they think something is trying to eat them. Then she starts trying to get loose by flapping her wings and clawing me. Leaving a nice little red mark on my neck (wing) and a scratch on my arm (claw). Get her to the coop and notice that half of her tail feathers are gone. But I don't see any wounds on anyone so I lock up the coop for the night.

The next morning this is what I see in the yard:

 All of these are from the BA/EE hen. So I let them out and look them over and see no injuries and decide to figure out what to do when I get home. So when I got home I do another check and take some new pictures of the flock. First the BA/EE hen's remaining tail(made big so you can actually see the tail):
And what's that in the background? That is my newly repaired havaheart trap, which a raccoon had ripped part of the bottom out of (actually kind of impressive and some where around her I think I have a post about it) and was repaired on Saturday:

 Which will come in later in this post. Then I took some quick photos of Red and the CM:

Then my sister wonders out to help getting them away from the deck and on to the grass for better pictures and to feed them some old bananas. And I get some nice head shots of the big flock:

And Butterscotch decides that he needs some love (that's my sister feeding the chickens bananas in her socks):
And I head over to the the cochin's pen:
 And realize that I'm not sure if you guys have heard about me messing with the run, for awhile it was hooked up the garden for them to fertilize and dig up. Then last week I unhooked it from the garden  and moved it so they have more grass and less dirt in their run. (In the picture you can see where it was has the grass worn away). So here is the current arrangement:
 And here is the Baby who could lay at any time but hasn't yet:
 And here are the cochins getting banana:

So I start debating on what to do about the presumed raccoon (there was some paw prints on the coop and our garbage cans and one was seen stealing cat food) and decide to set the newly repaired havaheart trap Wednesday night because I had Thursday off and that way I would have time to deal with any raccoon or opossum caught. So on Wednesday night I set the trap up behind the coop and then I do something I should have done a month ago, I plant peas. Peas have no problem with the cold so I usually try to get them in around mid-March. But because of everything else in my life that didn't happen. So I planted a small row of shelling peas because I had the seeds lying around, even though I don't like growing them. They take a lot of work to shell to get very little product. But then I plant one of my favorite crops: Snow peas this guys can be eaten shell and all and they are very sweet tasting. Hopefully I will be able to report back in soon with growth.

Thursday morning I go out and check the trap and it has nothing in it and hasn't been triggered, so I let the chickens out and end up spending about half an hour just sitting on the grass and visiting with them. It was calming, listening to them talk and the sounds of nature around me. But I had to break the peace to go help my dad replace the radiator in my Jeep, which was interesting but not something I want to repeat anytime soon.

On Friday I wake up to find the chickens have already been let out by my mom, because my sister heard them squawking and wanted her to check on them (she is the one who heard Kernel and saved him so we trust her listening to them) so I let them alone and head off for the day. By the time I got home it was raining and the cochins where inside, but the big flock was acting strange. The CM was standing in the rain by the cochin's pen and Red and the BA/EE where taking turns hiding under a sheet of metal (which was just weird).  I went outside to check things out and don't see anything wrong with the coop and try to heard the CM into the coop, which I do, and then see the problem. The trap ,which I hadn't thought to check that morning, had done it's job and contained a small juvenile raccoon wet and covered in mud. And words slip out of my mouth "I'm sorry" I mean this in a way I can't explain. I was sorry for leaving it to get cold and wet, for it's fear, for having to do this to protect my flock, for not checking the trap, for a thousand things. But I went and got the 22 and put it down. And if you are wondering, it horrifies me to do this and every time I do it I stay and force myself to watch until all movement has stopped. This forces me to see what I've done and never take their life for granted and I'm also there if the shoot was off to do a second shot the moment I know it is not dieing quickly.

But unfortunately I will most likely have to reset the trap and kill again because there is a larger raccoon that has been seen stealing cat food, which is too close to home for safety.

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