I write a lot about my farm and how happy it makes my family to live amongst the furry and feathery. But as most livestock caretakers know, having animals always comes with both joy and sorrow. Last week was a rough one for us. Some sort of animal was stalking and killing our (pet) birds […]
I write a lot about my farm and how happy it makes my family to live amongst the furry and feathery. But as most livestock caretakers know, having animals always comes with both joy and sorrow. Last week was a rough one for us. Some sort of animal was stalking and killing our (pet) birds in broad daylight. At first we hoped that our two juvenile chickens had wandered off into the woods for a holiday, but after several days we figured that something probably got them. That's when a young goose also went missing, no trace left behind in our yard.
My husband and I dawned long pants and half a gallon of big spray to head out into the woods behind the house. It didn't take us long to find a perfect little pile of guts amongst feathers. The dinner area was neat. No trail of feathers and honestly, the 'pile' was so perfect, almost as though something had purposefully coiled the intestines into some sort of noodle sculpture. This is all so gross I'm sorry, but the crime scene was a big part of our investigation into WHAT exactly was on a killing spree.
We got on Google and researched chicken predators. We talked to the folks at Zeigenbeins. Everything was pointing to three options, a fox, a coyote, or a bobcat. These predators strip the body clean, while a raccoon will most likely just take the head, and leave a mess of feathers.
At night we settled our flock into their barn, thinking they were safe. I went to feed them in the morning and to my horror, something had ripped its way into our goose pen. Inside the large barn area, I had placed a wire dog crate to house one of my baby geese with crooked legs. (She was receiving medical care.) I looked inside the crate to see Maggie (the goose), but all that was left was her hollowed out chest cavity. Whatever killed her had reached through the bars of the cage, still locked closed, and picked her apart. The critter also killed our favorite chicken, Jiffy Pop, who was the closest thing to a dog you could find in a chicken. Everyone was devastated.
This meant war.
We thought up ways to bring in our homicidal maniac. My husband zeroed his gun. I looked up catch and release methods, because I was stuck between vengeful chicken lady and bleeding heart/dirty hippy. An Internet site said to bury a chicken with one leg sticking out of the Earth to attract the perp and busy it so it could be dealt with. I told my husband I thought it was a great idea, but it would be complicated due to the fitting of an O2 mask for a chicken and acquiring an oxygen tank without a prescription.
We ended up on a stake out in our parked car with the windows down. We must have sat there for an hour before we heard the grossest, most frightening and unidentifiable noises coming from the barn. It started out as metal banging and shaking and escalated to deep and angry growling. I was wide-eyed and worried it was a bear. When it began its eerie SCREAMING and chattering, I abandoned the bear theory, and leaned towards alien. I was terrified. I grabbed my husband's arm and shook him, 'WHAT IS THAT?!'
Turns out it was a raccoon. A raccoon with a sweet little masked face and a taste for MRC (Missouri Raw Chicken). I wish we could have relocated the murderous little cutie, but the Conservation website was firmly against that due to spread of disease and undue suffering caused by confusion and other territorial raccoons. He was dispatched humanely as I questioned my 'Vegetarian Code of Ethics.' I guess I can't ride the PETA train 24/7. (Toot toot derailed. Rose colored glasses cracked.) I need my birds and collection of misfit cats to be safe. I don't like to see animals hurt and I certainly didn't want to see that raccoon die. It was a moral dilemma for me, but when you're responsible for the care of others, you have to make some tough decisions. UGH. I hate being a grown up sometimes and having a farm isn't always fun. RIP Dahmer. No more goose skin lamp shades for you.