We just spent a grueling night defending our backyard from critter terrorists. A pair of huge raccoons–and later, around 4 AM, a fat opossum–repeatedly stalked our chicken coop all night until sunup today. The night before, they broke into our coop, damaging both the coop and run, and ate our favorite chicken, Sen. We were heartbroken but we buried her and repaired. The vulnerability seemed to attract more predators and they broke a hole beneath the coop last night, allowing themselves free access.
I was peeing as I heard Hermione start to scream. I dashed outside in the cold rain barefoot to see a raccoon chasing her inside the run. I screamed at it and it fled into the coop, making me think it might still be there. I grabbed my slippers and our strongest flashlight and kept vigil for about an hour before calling Indy. I couldn’t see the other girls, Milly and Rey, and believed them to be dead.
Indy ended up leaving work to come help me deal with these interlopers. We scared them as best as we knew how–throwing rocks off the deck, shining lights in their faces, etc.–all. bloody. night. And these guys were completely nonplussed. They’d back off a bit, but then come back even while we were still outside!
We went down together and were so relieved to find the other two ladies unharmed on their perch. We tried to catch them and bring them into the garage but they were so loud and we didn’t want to wake the neighbors. Plus, Hermione refused to come out of the run, which we can’t access without dismantling.
Indy patched the hole a bit without tools, which still left them vulnerable. That’s when we noticed two things: there was another vulnerable spot where the coop met the run and Hermione, still refusing to come back into the coop (can you blame her?), was bleeding. This morning she’s still limping a bit but I think she may be okay.
We knew we couldn’t drag out the power tools, so we took turns monitoring the chickens. Eventually I went to bed around 5 AM, soaked and frozen to the core and behind on my work, and I’m getting up now and seeing that Wood Sprite’s bake sale is not in two weeks as she’d indicated but TOMORROW, and Indy is out back trying to make more coop repairs until we can buy either materials or a whole new coop this weekend.
So this week, I’m grateful for my last Centurion who came home to help me through all of this, two friends who listened to me cry over Sen yesterday (and three friends who were so understanding when I canceled our various plans throughout the day, one of whom even stopped by to bring us pretzels since we missed Free Pretzel Day!), and that we were able to defend our last three chickens against this insane attack. To some people, our grief may seem silly since yes, we still eat chicken, but we love our girls. We hand-raised them inside the house, making my office pretty dang gross in the process. Wood Sprite and I would just sit and cuddle them beneath the glow of the heat lamp with the lights off, or walk around the house holding them, or set up a “play yard” in different rooms for them to explore.
I called it Jurassic Park in our Backyard, but Indy said it felt much more like Congo.