I have a confession to make.
Sometimes, especially if it is raining, we do not close the door to the chicken coop at night. The chickens don’t know the difference and some nights we are just too tired to walk out there.
This has all changed after last weekend.
I was getting ready to get into the shower on Sunday morning when I heard a lot of racket coming from the chicken yard. I’m accustomed to hearing the roosters and can, in fact, distinguish which rooster makes each “cock a doodle doo.”
This was, however, a hen making the racket. She sounded very distressed so I knew something was amiss. I grabbed a flashlight, put on my muck shoes and headed out to the chicken yard.
As soon as I left the garage, I knew there was trouble.
A large number of the birds lined the fence looking very scared (at least I’m guessing it was a scared look on their faces.)
Something had gotten into their coop and they were trying to get away.
Had it not been 5:45 a.m. and my brain still foggy, I might have thought more about rushing into an unknown situation. All I could think about, though, was my poor chickens and how I had left them vulnerable by not closing the coop.
As I approached, I could see the announcer hen still squawking at something in the corner.
A possum and it was eating a chicken!
Not wishing to add “possum wrangler” to my titles or face-off with a possum and his breakfast, I headed back to the house for my husband. He reached for a hand gun, but I reminded him it would be illegal to fire in the city limits. He grabbed a BB gun instead, and we went back outside.
Fortunately, possums do not have a “flight” instinct and in fact will freeze when they are frightened (think deer in the headlight look). So when we got to the coop, Raider Possum was still there.
Beekeeper Brian was able to put enough BBs into him that he will not be eating any more of our chickens nor will he be able to tell his friends where to get a free meal.
As we retold our morning adventure, we did get asked several times if we were making a meal out of the possum. (The answer is a resounding “no.”)
With the danger eliminated, we coaxed the chickens back into the coop. They may have bird brains but they remembered there was something scary in that coop and balked when we tried to herd them back inside the chicken yard.
We picked each one up and placed it gently into the coop. As we lifted them, they cried out what sounded like “Ouch, Ouch.” We got as many as we could back into the coop and shut the door until the sun came up.
The chickens seem to have no recollection of the events and have gone back into the coop every night since. All except for one black hen who slept on top of the quail cage for several nights.
Now, every night, we shut the door to the coop and tell the chickens:
“Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the possums bite.”
I had to laugh over her caution to the chickens. You see, when she was little we often sent her off to bed with “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed-bugs bite.”
Strange saying, but evidently founded in the fact that bedbugs were once real threat and have recently made a comeback.
All I meant was for her to have a good night’s sleep, which worked for Chicken Wrangler Sara and her siblings. I hope it works for the Miller farm fowl.
It has been a rough week at the Miller Farm. Chickens facing raider possums. Thanksgiving Turkey’s roasting. The fowl must have felt like they were watching a horror movie.
YOUR TURN: How do you pick yourself up after a horror movie week or day?