Thursday, February 20, 2014

Possum Attack, New Chicks, and More Useful Goat Functions

That's it.

I'm buying a pellet gun.

I'm going to the store this afternoon and I'm going to buy a pellet gun. Last night at about 9pm I was reading a book in the living room when I heard a hen squawking. Hens never make noise after dark unless there is something after them. So I tore outside in my house slippers, armed only with my heavy Mag-Lite flashlight with a fading battery. I made a bunch of noise as I came out of the house to scare off any big stuff (coyotes?) and high-tailed it to the coop. Puff, our ridiculous Silkie hen, was out of the coop and throwing herself against the chicken wire sides of the run. Poking its head out of the coop was a very fat white possum with a pink nose. The seventeen other chickens were still up on their perches above the possum's head. I hit the plywood side of the coop with my flashlight as hard as I could and the possum scampered out, climbed through a hole in the chicken wire, and hustled up a tree. Mr. Chanclas proceeded to throw giant rocks at it in a futile gesture of anger.

A baby possum we found a couple of years ago

Because Puff sleeps down on the floor of the coop (Silkies cannot fly at all so they cannot roost) the possum had grabbed her and cut a big gash down her back. I put her in a small self-contained coop/run to recuperate and to protect her from another attack. I closed the doors to the main coop tightly to protect the rest of my flock until morning. (I usually leave the coop doors open so they can go and come as they please. The coop is surrounded by a protected run.)

If I had a pellet gun then I'd have a big, dead possum for the kids to look at today.

I've spent the morning rehabilitating our chicken run to make it more resistant to predators. It's going to take me several days because I'm basically tearing down the old run and replacing it. In the meantime I'll have to move our whole flock to the portable chicken tractors where they will be safe until repairs are made.


In other news, the new chicks are doing great. Their wing feathers are already starting to grow in and they are noticeable larger than they were when they arrived. My improvised brooder has worked out wonderfully. Little Sister is only three years old (nearly four) but she knows how to hold a chick and how to care for them.


This year I found an excellent way to get rid of an old Christmas tree. Let the goats eat it. It took them a week or two but they completely denuded our little pine and now they are nibbling the tips of the branches and the bark. I wonder if it would make their milk taste like Christmas.


3 comments:

  1. I hope your coop rehab goes quicker than you think!!

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  2. My silkies roost four feet off the ground. If you could give her a four foot roost on a metal pole the opossum can't climb and put her there a few times she might be willing to use it. I hope Puff is healing well. We lost 19 silkie chicks in one night to an unknown predator.

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    Replies
    1. Gosh, can your silkies really get off the ground? I have never seen Puff achieve lift. She walks up the little ramp into the chicken coop and then sleeps on the floor of the coop with her head facing the door. Thankfully, she seems to be healing well. And wow- 19 chicks in one night! That sounds like a morning of tears. And ranting.

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