Sunday, April 14, 2013

Too Graphic For Photos: A Tale of Extreme Violence

Warning: May Not be suitable for Young Audiences..........

Last night as I had troubles  sleeping, a clatter outside caught my attention....I strained my ears listening for the first sounds of chickens in distress. After about  20 minutes of nothing, I started to relax and decided to force myself to sleep. Hubby already sound asleep, snoring loudly next to me. Then about 10 minutes later, the unmistakable sounds of squawking and wing flapping of crazed chickens scared out of their mind echoed through our bedroom.

I leaped out of bed without thinking, running outside in Mid April after it had been snowing half that coat, bald head, barefoot, racing across the yard in the pitch dark. I stop, knowing in the pitch dark, in chicken pens still winterized, closed off so you can not see into them as spring just does not want to show it's face, how stupid my rashness is. After all I can not see what predator lies in waiting for me if I come up and surprise it!

Not to mention, since Chemo, I truly am freezing all the time and can not tolerate such cold I race back in the house as Hubby who awoke with the noise, is flying out of bed with the  speed of a gazelle, racing to save our favorite chickens, in a separate pen from the others. Our 2 silkie roosters and araucauna hen. I grab some shoes, my hat and a coat..... wondering where my daughter left the dang flashlight she had just played with 2 nights ago.

Save our chickens...............the only thing on our minds..... you would think raising chickens in a country setting would have us owning some type of weapon to deal with predators...... um nope, guilty as charged!

When I come out, chickens have been set free, scattering in the dark cross country.......who knows where in the zillion acres of farm fields and darkness. A lump lies curled up right outside their pen. I am impressed Hubby got it from the pen to the outside of it and asked him what the heck it was. He informs me he clubbed it once in the head so not to worry, it was dead.......then tells me it is an opossum.

Yeah he is a city boy who knows nothing of nature! I am like DUDE hit him again, he is NOT dead, he is just PLAYING DEAD!

To late, he jumps up and runs next to the other pen.

Then we proceed to throw large rocks, trying to crack his  skull, a horrible situation to be in. Hubby talked of trying to chase him away.......I explained if we did that, he would just keep returning, the sad truth of a food chain in nature at work.

Besides, this pissed off creature who was growling, hissing and not in the mood was not about to leave, he was ready for the fight.

I kept telling hubby to grab the shovel sitting pretty close to us, while by now our daughter had found the flashlight so at least we could see what we were doing. Hubby ignored me, kept debating what to do, fearing this thing would start running at us and biting us.

You see Opossums, naturally play dead, but when they are truly under attack, they can be nasty and oh so incredibly mean and have no problems running up your leg biting the crap out of you.

I was freezing and telling hubby while trying not to hurry him, that I could not handle the cold anymore as an hour or two had passed and the rock throwing was not doing much good other than hurting him slightly. We needed to end this so we could find our chickens and go  to bed!

Our daughter who is 11 and running around the house trying  to find ways to help, fashioned a spear out of an old hollow broom handle and a sharp kitchen knife that when wedged in the handle made for a fine mighty spear.

One problem was the handle was only about 2 1/2 feet long and hubby was not comfortable with such close combat range.. The machete we had under our bed also was made for close combat range and hubby decided was way too dull.

This whole situation was truly sucking as I HATE being cruel to wildlife but at the same time needed to protect our small flock.

Finally we got the possum  to come out enough from his rock pile that ended up being his shelter rather than the hopeful killing of him we intended it to be, grabbed the shovel.

I  remained silent, flashlight on target, while hubby got the courage and confidence to took a little bit but in the end the shovel did the trick, breaking it's neck.

30 minutes later, the extremely frightened chickens had been found, rounded up in the dark and placed back into safety.

Growing your own is not always pleasant, it is what is is! One chicken received a small bite but appears to be okay so in the end we saved all 3 so will consider a gruesome but successful night.

I think we will be considering at least a good air gun for future predator issues............

How about you, have you ever had predator issues with your backyard flock?


  1. Oh, yes, I've had predators visit the coop! A few years ago I had a raccoon coming around and trying to snatch a delicious chicken dinner.

    I'm in the city and we're not allowed to shoot at critters, even with an air gun. I don't own one anyway, and I was lucky enough to scare it away with lots of noise and posturing. Something came back a year later and tried messing with the hens again, but I had learned from the previous experience and kept the chickens well-secured at night.

    I saw a raccoon a few months ago in the yard. It wasn't much past dark and when my dog pitched a fit and wanted to be let into the yard the last thing I expected was that it wanted to chase a raccoon. The dog treed it, and when I figured out what was going on, I called the dog inside and let the poor raccoon escape.

    I wasn't worried about the chickens since my new coop set up is like Fort Knox. I have hardware cloth tightly secured to every potential entry point that is not solid, and I have padlocks on all the doors. I put the padlocks on to keep out raccoons, but I used to leave the keys in the locks since raccoons aren't smart or nimble enough to turn the key, remove the lock, unbolt the door, and open it. (They can most of it except for the turning the key part, from what I've read on message boards.) I started taking the keys inside the house with me when I heard from other Chicago chicken keepers that they had chickens stolen at night. The two-legged predators are the worse.

    Glad you got that opossum! They are around in the city, too, as are skunks. The "conventional" advice is that they are after the eggs, but it sounds like that one as looking for chicken dinner, too. I hope you figure out how it got in and are able to correct it today.

    1. Our spring project is a sturdier more suitable coop.......just waiting for spring and cooperative weather!

  2. over the years of raising chickens and other animals, i have lost some, lots of chickens, right up to three goats killed by dogs....but over that time i have shot many a critter with my 22, it has to be done like it or not.....ronaldj

    1. Yes it has to be done, we do not have to like it, but does have to be done!

  3. We have a neighborhood fox who likes to come close by and far, the 6' mesh fence and our very-large Chesapeake/Golden Lab have chased him off. Little does the fox know how friendly Charley actually is.
    We also have a stiff latch on the door, and close the hens up every night in the coop. I'm more worried about the new chicks in the bin under the heat lamp in the garage. I try to keep the dog door blocked, so the chicks don't have any uninvited visitors.
    Ronald is right, though -- you need a .22. It's a lot easier than killing them with a shovel.

    1. Yeah our place is so small I just am not comfortable with guns in my home, no where to keep one safely.

  4. Opposums are such tricky little critters. A few weeks ago we came home from town and discovered our dog had killed one in the back yard. She was laying with it and seemed very content and proud. We went about our business which took about a hour or so. My husband decided it was time to go and dispose of the opposum. He walked out to get a shovel and commented to the dog about having to take her opposum. She was still laying down by it. He went to the garage and when he came back it was gone! We were not surprised that it wasn't dead. We were surprised that it played dead that long! I guess the dog must have been just as amazed since she let it walk off. I have witnessed some brutal opposum "control" tactics. Unfortunately sometimes it requires an extensive extermination. They are like zombies for goodness sakes ;) Terri H.

    1. Lol Terri thanks for sharing, love the comparison to zombies, that is about it too!