Monday, October 23, 2017

Hen House Hysteria!

We've had a possum around for awhile. Actually, I killed a couple small ones a month, or so back. I haven't seen one since the whoa-man left for Florida last week. However, last night when she let Higgins out for the last potty run, there it was. I grabbed the flashlight but, never saw anything. It had disappeared into the darkness.

Off to bed.

Rise and shine at 0600.  It's dark out yonder. Wait, I hear a noise. What is it? I listen and there it is again. It's coming from the hen house. It's Chatty. As I open the back door I hear her squawk and know from the sound she's run-flying away from something. From what? Has to be the possum.

I grab the pellet/BB gun and flashlight, slip into hunter mode and head into the darkness. Gun in my right hand; safety off. Light in my left hand scanning back and forth. In the run I see Chatty on open ground. Feathers are ruffled but, seems to be okay. She staggers around on her (already) gimpy leg. Goose is on her outside perch snoring away.

I peek into the coop door window and see nothing. No birds on the roosts nor a woolly booger. I remember Esther stole Goose's spot in the rafters. I look through the vent. Yep, there she is and beside her, and in my face, is Wilma and Maggie. No movement, no sound. Had they jumped I'd've shit myself, I'm sure of that. I back up and start looking under the coop. And, that's when I see it. Possum! Pretty big. He, she, it (I'll use he) was positioned just out from under the coop in a stare down with Chatty. I was about 3 ft. from him on the other side of the wire. As my light hits him, he just stares at me. No fear! Well, I was cautious but, determined to remove this threat once and for all. And, I have to do it with the flickering, dimming light of a cheap flashlight.

I eased the rifle barrel through the wire and stopped about a foot from his head. Positioned the light over the barrel so I could see something that resembled proper sight alignment. Aiming for a head shot, I put the light back on him and, FIRED! He takes off under the coop and headed for the far back corner. I pumped the single shot rifle to its maximum pressure, found him and hit him again. He moved off under the porch steps toward the run where Chatty is. Chatty has not moved. It's DARK and she's scared, for sure.

I look under the coop and steps to the chicken coop entrance door. I look toward Chatty. Nothing. I don't see him. Did he find an escape? I'm at the front of the pen now, close to Chatty. I still don't see him. I shine the light in the chicken's door to the coop. There he is. As I spotlight him, he climbs into one of the nesting boxes, turns, faces me and glares. Defiant I tell ya.

Let's do this again. He's about 12 ft. from me inside a nesting box. That makes it even darker than it already is. I crouch at the pen gate and slide the barrel through the wire. Using it as a crutch, once again, I shine the light down the sights and align them at, what I think is, his head. Put the light back on him and take the shot. He doesn't move. Did I miss? I didn't hear the BB hit the wall. Surely, I hit him. Then, he wavers back and forth and leaves the nesting box. He makes a turn and moves deeper into the coop, out of sight. I'm assuming he has 3 BBs in him now so, food is probably not on his mind. Besides, the birds are high in the rafters and should be safe, at this point.

A few seconds after I lose sight of him, I hear a thump. Then, a couple more. What's with that? I'm not going in the pen. The only way I can see inside the coop from this side is through the chicken entrance. I am not sticking my head into that hole. Nope. Not me. I move around to the big door where I can peek into the window again. Well, look here. There he lays on his side. Lifeless? Ha. Don't ever believe a possum is dead. You'll end up bit. I watched for a few and, sure enough, saw him inhale and exhale a big breath. Was that his last?

Daylight pictures. My encounter was in total darkness using a flashlight.

The initial approach

The coop door window

Possum was in the middle of the pic. Feathers are from molting, not an attack.
Internet picture. Couldn't get a live pic of the one I encountered. I dealt with possums several times in my life. They are some mean creatures. 

The girls entrance. 4 ft. within the darkness is the nesting box. Straight and true. Oh look! Wilma.

His new resting spot in the old garden area.
I figured he got in through the tractor area. However, he attacked too late. Had he been even 15 minutes earlier, Chatty would surely have been dinner. As it stands everyone is safe. I think they're singing Elvis's song, "I'm all shook up", though.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vampire Protection

Fall garlic planted.

Just after 4PM, Goose is already on her new spot napping away. Whilst, Maggie is positioned on the exit gate and Wilma is strutting her stuff.

Wilma is a (bantam) golden laced seabright . But, don't let her size fool you. She's king of the yard, pen and coop. She even crows and rides the others - on occasion. Yes, 'she'. Hens sometimes take up the role of a missing rooster. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

...and Stay Out

Twice this week Esther has locked all the others in the chicken tractor and gone to bed in the coop. The tractor is a smaller run with wheels that I transport them around the yard, for fresh grass, weeds and bugs. No picture today and it's too dark now. Maybe another time.

This is the gate from their pen into the tractor.  Esther rounds (forces) everyone in the tractor and then closes the gate. Then she has the coop all to herself. Course, I spoil her plan and let everyone out. 

Goose must like the out-of-doors. What's it been, 4 nights now?

Oblivious to me snapping a pic tonight. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dreary and Wet

Cold front moved through today making things cool and wet. All day.

Chatty was out again. There's a space between the ground and wheels on their tractor that she can scoot under, I reckon. She's easy enough to herd back to the main pen for recapture. She has a gimpy leg also, so if required, I can catch her.

Went to the shop today to get sandpaper. Tuxedo Cat was in there. He's the neighborhood fellow. The one that had the snake cornered the other day. I have a couple places in the eaves open so he can come and go. Reckon I'll be closing them up shortly.

I have 2 of the tables listed on Craigslist. A man came out to look at one and immediately said, 'Oh, I thought it was bigger.' He must not have read the ad. I had all the dimensions and pictures. No matter. Can't sell to everyone.

Looks like Goose has taken to the outside roost permanently. Been several nights she's camped out. Not sure whose been bullying her. Probably, when it gets cold, she'll move back into the coop.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Goose Camped Out

Goose is 5 years old now and I've noticed her taking cat naps throughout the day. Yesterday evening she chose the outside roosting stick as a good spot. It started getting dark and she was still napping. I figured she'd eventually go inside with the others after she realized the time.

Went out to feed at daybreak and what did I see?

Wake up, you old fart!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Red Light!

Up bright and early this morning. Had to make a quick store run for cokes and sausage and the like.  The flooding caused by hurricanes this year has the city closing my main, back way, path to the grocery store while they dig culverts and clear a larger runoff area for water. So, I'm stuck fighting the morning traffic for a few months.

Coming back, as I approached the last light before home, there was a line of cars in the left turn lane. However, the light arrow was green and they had just begun to move. I followed. As I entered the intersection, I happened to look up and saw the light was RED. Damn! Busted! The city recently installed cameras. Reckon I'll be getting some mail shortly.

When I got home, Chatty was out of the pen, frolicking around the yard. Oh bother.

No idea how she got out but, a quick herding had her back up.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Well, not really.

Looked out the window the other day and noticed the neighborhood cat sitting, staring intently into my lean-to of yard tools. He's normally meandering out front; harassing Higgins through the door. But, today he was focused on something else. We watched for a while as he stared. At one point, he swatted at whatever was in the lean-to. Then, he jumped back and that's when I saw it. A snake. I'm sure of it. It struck at him!  It did! What kind of snake? Rattlesnake! (I always holler rattlesnake even though we've yet to see one around here) Raccoons, possums, squirrels, and now, our first snake. We've a regular wildlife area out back. In the suburbs, no less.

The old Tom got tired of the snake game and took off. I grabbed up the pellet gun and headed out. Positioned myself at the chicken tractor which is directly across, 20 yards from the point of interest. As I looked I saw the shape of a snake head. Took aim and fired. A terrific shot it was.

The whoa-man came out and we went to investigate. Yep. A snake. Not a rattlesnake. A rat snake with a large lump in his belly. (A rat in a snake skin coat?) Normally, I'd've let him be and he could take care of the rats but, Higgins is a small dog and I'll be damned if a snake is getting him. He's already befriended a possum that I'm trying to remove. He's not going to end up a lump in a snake's belly.

Well, we had pictures but, I failed to save them correctly on this new Chromebook.  We all know what a snake looks like anyway, eh?  Thinking about getting a trail cam just to see what all is out yonder.

Take care and stay tuned.