Friday, July 11, 2014

'You Were Guarding the Stock'...

..a line spoken to Gus McRae many times in the mini series, 'Lonesome Dove'.

Cast in this upcoming post...
Mr. Ewell........................the raccoon
Fancy..............................D'uccles bantam pullet
Chit Chatty......................Japanese black-tail bantam

Without a sighting nor a sign you know he's out yonder; lurking in the darkened areas. The shadows hide him well and he is a master of disguise. Normally, this is the case, however, Mr. Ewell is not worried about hiding. He's brazen and full of confidence. Lying on the neighbor's sun warmed shed roof...wait! Someone came out of the house. Mr. Ewell nonchalantly looks but shows no sign of moving. The 2-legged creature advances. Closer, closer. Mr. Ewell defiantly stands fast, his devil eyes glaring now. Finally, he lazily retreats back into the confines of the shed.

No folks, he's not rabid. He's an urban raccoon and very familiar with the sights and sounds of suburbia. He's been living in the neighbor's tool shed for around 3 years. He can't be run off and is far too intelligent to be trapped. Suburban living prohibits the use of a firearm. It just isn't safe. Besides, a story of you shooting a coon in your backyard might make the neighbor's a little curious.

It had been weeks since we'd seen Mr. Ewell searching and scavenging the yard in the darkness. He hasn't taken one of my chickens since February. It was then he took my beloved Morticia. Re-installing a temporary enclosure, I had confidently left the coop door open that evening. A low spot the rats had been using as a tunneling area is all he needed to burrow under the wire and remind me, once again, what a fool I was. But, I'm a rebel and I take chances. However, losing a pet due to stupidity is a hard pill to swallow. Photos of the past are a constant reminder and it hurts to know the joy you once had is gone. Idiot!

I bought 2 bantam chickens and had them set up in an old chicken tractor. 16 square feet of run with a small coop on top. It has a ramp leading down into the run and was NEVER breached when I used it before. Did I mention it was old? Refurbishing it, I went over and over it with a fine toothed hammer and nail. Securing wire, adding new wire to holes. Turning it upside down and sideways making sure every inch was impenetrable.

It was last Sunday morning when I noticed the pile of feathers. Even at a distance I knew Mr. Ewell had killed again. Walking out yonder, I imagined both Chatty and Fancy were gone. The feathers in the run were Fancy's. I walked around to the coop door expecting the worst. Chatty was fine; not a feather out of place. Mr. Ewell is an opportunist and a hit and run type hunter. Going back to Fancy's feathers I see a small hole in the run's wire. Upon further inspection the wire was very rusty and easily broken/pulled away from it's structure. In and out, slick as a whistle.

Learning from your mistakes and not repeating them is what's supposed to happen. I try to live that philosophy. This one too, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. At who or what expense? What ever lessons you learn or decisions you may have to make, always remember....

You were guarding the stock.

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