Saturday, July 18, 2020

Reality on the Farm

For two weeks, I have been trying to sit down and write a blog post.  I keep getting side tracked, there is a lot to do in the country at this time of year. 

Today, I was side tracked again, after planning a great post in my head last night. 

I have so many flower pictures, sheep pictures, etc.. 

And then, reality set in .

Folks, I know this is not a "real" farm.  I also know that I have, by 
feeding the feral cats here, also fed the creatures of the night for the last three years. 

I am down to two ferals, both of whom have learned to eat on the deck during the day. 

So, this is my yard at night. 


When I take the dogs out to go potty, and trust me, the little girls are ALWAYS on 
leashes at dusk.... 
I yell first to the bird feeding area, OR shine my spotlight that way. 


an exodus to the west, through the fence and into the uninhabited by people wild area across the road. 

You may remember that about three weeks ago, I was chicken-sitting for some friends, left to do an errand, and came home and found their only mature hen killed in broad daylight by what I suspected was a raccoon hit. 

Their pullets were able to get away and were all recovered and put in the chicken house in safety. 

They lost their mature flock to foxes and raccoons, and yes, they had a good hen house. 

So, this is my little hen house, today. 

I had it built two years ago, but did not know that when the farmer delivered it, 
it would have a storm door on it, no solid door.  The window for the door lasted about six months. 

I had a small flock in here, a cochin rooster and about a dozen nice hybrid egg layers, 
and this is the flock I gave up last October, trying to lighten my load a little. 

The only thing about this little building is that it is NOT well ventilated, and 
gets very hot.  I keep a fan going in all of the hen houses. 

The hen house has been empty now for almost a year, except for two weeks ago 
when I put four pullets and my friend's three birds in there. 

When the raccoon struck during the day, killing the mature hen, my friends 
fixed their pen and hen house and took ALL the pullets home, I gave them 
my four. 

This week, I bought two more, little black cochins, three months old. 

On Wednesday, my friend Mary came over, and brought me the most 
beautiful frizzle rooster I had ever seen, glossy black feathers. 
She had to give him up, because she lives in a city where roosters are not allowed. 

I determined to keep rooster and pullets in that house, with the little ex-pen yard in front of it.  I can't build a real pen because there is a water line running under there. 

This then, is Elvis the Rooster, closest to the camera, and the two young 
Cochin pullets behind him.  

They were petrified to move before their rooster was put in with them, they 
were very young girls. 

Here, in the middle of the story, I have to interject that Fritzi has been very, very sick. 

She doesn't just have diabetes, she has Cushings as well, and now, 
a clostridium infection that I am afraid now that Snowy may have caught. 
 She has been very sick all week, and I spoke at length with the vet 
this morning after an emergency trip yesterday for Fritz.  

Your blogger is getting very little sleep. 

This morning, after another restless night for my poor little girl, who can no longer 
hold her bowels for hours..... I went out to do chores in the already hot morning. 

(our heat index right now is 108). 

I approached the hen house, thinking to open the door so air could get in beside the 
open windows and fan, when I noticed the pen looked ajar. 

I opened the door. 

They must have run like crazy to escape the predators. 

The crazy thing was, the fan, always precariously propped, was still upright and running.  
Somehow, the dang raccoons got the door open again from the outside and ran them out. 
They banged against the bars of the makeshift pen. 

Don't look at the next picture if graphic pictures bother you, but this, friends, 
is what a raccoon attack looks like. 

Eviscerated, with no head. 

I did not find the two pullets at all, 
only feathers.  The feathers abruptly stopped at the back of the 
hen house wall, they must have been taken through the fence. 

It broke my heart, because I, jaded after years of raising chickens, had decided 
to buy a few Silkie hens to keep Elvis company, he was such a good looking boy. 

I am not crazy angry, just so you know. 

I fed the feral cats and the raccoons for almost three years.  About a month ago, 
I started locking up all cat food at night, I took it out of the pasture feeder, and 
I locked up the suet, the hanging finch feeder and the low squirrel feeder every night. The only thing the raccoons were getting was the spilled seed. 

(I take that back, I forgot to bring in the porch feeder two or three times, and 
my son told me his "pet" raccoon was eating it... this raccoon did not seem to 
have a healthy fear of humans, so I have been trying to scare it.) 

Other than that, it is all locked up nightly and put back out in the morning. 
There is very little traffic on the actual porch camera now at night. 

So.... various people have said
Kill them... trap them and remove them (just like killing).... 
poison them (as if I would with my beloved dogs here)... 

What I have decided to do (try)? 

Today I went to Sam's Club to get a large container of hot sauce and one 
of cayenne pepper.  

I also have a hanging shop light that I don't use in the big hen house, it is going outside tonight 
to hang from the bird feeder that draws everyone. 

I also am going to put a transistor radio out there, and play it at night. 

I will use the cayenne and hot sauce carefully, as I don't want to dissuade the 
squirrels and rabbits. 

(still figuring that out). 

The peppers do not bother the birds. 

I'm hoping the combination of light and sound as well 
as the hot sauces dissuade them. 

In the old days, we had Ranger the GSD and Lilly Ann, the Retriever here, 
and believe me, a raccoon was not safe coming into our yard.  I am too old to start 
another dog, but today I did make an inquiry about an Anatolian cross puppy. 

We were actually able to leave on game days and go to baseball games at 5:30, and leave the four henhouses open in those days, and trust the dogs to take care of everyone. 

I am worried today, even in the heat, that a bold raccoon will strike in the middle of the day.  I would like to clear the whole fenceline out behind the hen houses, but right now, it is too hot and too much poison ivy mixed in.  That's a job for cool weather.  

My son's "pet" raccoon, seen through the front door.  As you can see, it 
comes out while there is still plenty of light.  It is being discouraged as of a few days ago, 
because we don't need any on the porch or deck.  

I'll report to you all how my efforts are rewarded.  In the meantime, 
I have already talked to someone about putting a solid door on the hen house that 
can be latched (I suspect I did not get the latch on the storm door last night) and 
some ventilation in the roof. 

Everyone be safe in the heat and the continuing virus crisis. 


  1. I don't know what to say Mary Ann, except that I'm sorry – for ALL the problems!

  2. Gosh, that's the pits! Sorry for the woes. Please take care and be safe.

  3. Hari OM
    that's a total mob of racoons, right enough... they have their place, for sure - but it ought not to be en masse at Calamity Acres!!! I do hope your remedial work pays dividends - though I suspect the habit will be tough to break. So sorry you lost these pretty chooks... YAM xx

  4. You really live in a raccoon state. Thanks for sharing the honest thins that happen.

  5. Do some more research on LGD breeds. Anatolians are big and strong and can be very hard headed, which is part of why they are good at their job, but may not be a good fit for you. They need a big job to do and will go out and find that big job...and it's frequently not a job you want to have to deal with.

  6. So sad to hear about the raccoon problems. Any type of food will attract them. Might consider a motion detector light as it wouldn't be on all the time. As a side note, raccoons don't like ammonia, either.

  7. Racoons are so cute but Mary Ann, this is just heartbreaking. I hope the pepper and hot sauce help, as well as a better door. We don't have hens anymore but I still wonder if RH should be putting out food on the ground under the bird feeder for the possum and skunk that come out at night. Sometimes a fox or racoon too. It's outside our fenced in back yard where my dachshunds to out to potty but I don't let them out at night even in that without going out and yelling first.


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