Friday 24 August 2012
We lost several chickens last week.
Over a dozen.
They were murdered while they slept.
It was the young birds.
A raccoon had burrowed under the the door threshold.
It didn't grab a bird and go like the fox does.
Raccoons are known to just hang out and kill several birds,
taking bites from each.
And that is just what happened.
In the past, I have spared the raccoons.
They seem so cute and kind.
But finding dead and mutilated baby chicks all over the place has changed that.
My heart has been hardened.
Like the fox, it's not so easy to dispatch the masked marauders.
Traps are common, but I fear that innocents will be harmed inadvertently.
Ideally, I like to catch them in the act.
Then it's easier to squeeze the trigger.
The chicken feeder is out in the open and tends to be hit first.
If I hear it, then I run out the door,
grabbing what I need on the way out.
Sometimes everything is ready to go.
Most often, my attire is completely inappropriate.
Sometimes, clothing is neglected altogether in favour of a speedy exit.
The predators almost never strike when I'm dressed.
It's because they watch through the windows.
I need to get out quickly enough to figure out where the raccoon is.
It's always dark when they're here, and most time they are quick to hide.
If I can wait in the dark long enough, the bandit will head back for more feed.
That's when I can pinpoint the location.
If I can start a chase, there is the chance that I will catch up.
I always hope that it's a raccoon that I'm chasing and not a bear.
The firearm for the raccoon is unsuitable for bear defense,
should the need arise.
The night is almost dead quiet at this time of year.
If I stay still to listen for movement,
the only sounds are the jaws of wood chewing insects,
and squeaky little mice.
I feel it's bad karma to kill animals without the intent to eat them.
Raccoons are not the cleanest beast,
and so we have never dressed one up for food.
Instead, they are buried among the honeyberries, and eaten indirectly.
Killing them is easier now.
Knowing what they will do and seeing it first hand,
clears the matter up;
We work hard to raise our birds.
I won't part with them so easily.
Seeing them senselessly butchered defies my understanding of the food chain.
Mercy has left the building.
And every night I listen intently.
Many nights I find myself too late getting to the scene.
But some nights of waiting in the dark pays off.
Then the ground grows more fertile around the honeyberries.