Dear Mr. Raccoon

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Raccoon:

Your St. Valentine’s Day Chicken Massacre was not appreciated by the residents of Pleasant Hill Farm. Your wanton waste of gentle poultry who are just gearing up to enter their most productive season after being mere grain consumers all winter particularly disgusts us. 

Nonetheless, you are welcome to return tonight, though you will not find any chickens in the hen house. Tonight the surviving hens and lone rooster are safely billeted in the garage. Instead, please direct your ravenous appetite toward the liver you will find in one of the traps, er, the interesting metal sculptures set up around the hen house. And, don’t think you will get away with merely tipping over said metal structure to steal the bait as you did last night. We are on to your tricks and are prepared.

We hope to see you soon.


Mrs. Pleasant Hill Farmwife


Kara said…
Yikes. How many did he kill?
Kristen Wegener said…
He got more chickens last night? Oh no! Please don't use my room for more chicks... :)
Anne said…
He killed four IN THE HEN HOUSE between Sun. night and Mon. morning. (Beheaded and breasts ripped out, etc.) On top of that, we lost three over the weekend, but those were in the hen yard. Last night, Dad and the boys caught the remaining birds to put in cages in the garage, and found we were down three more. Happily, those three must have been roosting in trees, as Peter found them alive this morning. (All the birds were so freaked out last night, they didn't want to go into the barn.)

At first we thought the culprit might be a weasel, since he got inside the barn, a very tricky affair for a larger animal. However, when the trap was tipped over last night, we knew it had to be something bigger. Plus, Dad and Jon saw a coon last night near the site, but they weren't able to do anything to him.

Don't worry, Kristen. I don't plan on doing chicks this year. If we lose every one, we may take a chicken breather.
Jessica said…
So sorry, Anne! We have not had much trouble with predators on the ground, but rather those that attack from overhead. Hawks took more than a dozen of our hens this past summer/fall. We made some changes this winter which have helped, but in the other three seasons we prefer to rotate them on pasture (making them more vulnerable to birds of prey.)

Anyway, I loved your letter to Mr. Raccoon and have posted a link to it on my blog!
Anne said…
Jessica -
Oh, I'm sorry to hear you've lost so many to hawks! We have lost a few chickens to hawks as well over the years. We've noticed that white/light colored ones tend to get picked off more easily. Peter even thinks that a hawk is the culprit for the outdoor losses we had over the weekend. I'm more skeptical that we have two separate issues at the same time.

What was new and shocking to us was having a predator get inside our locked barn during the night. We have some soffits (sp?) near the eaves which he must have entered, so we're trying to figure out how to close those. We've been told raccoons would just tear off chicken wire. Seems there's always something new to keep you on your toes, doesn't it?
Anne said…
Critter update:

We have since disposed of one raccoon and one possum, and have had no more losses the past two weeks. Tim and the boys also installed hardware cloth over the soffits of the hen house.

Last night Jon found another possum sitting in the barn when he went to put up the chickens. This fellow had not done any damage and was likely there looking for eggs. Sadly, unless you take the possum's point of view, he escaped unharmed.

(Sometimes possums can be destructive, but they seem to not wreak as much havoc as coons. Jon once found one smugly sitting in the barn on top of a dead chicken. His self-satisfaction was short-lived, however.)
Carole said…

We used to have trouble with raccoons getting in our bird feeders at night, when we were in Ellettsville. So I decided to take matters in hand, and I made a hot sauce sandwich, using about an inch's worth of Dave's Insanity Sauce (hottest sauce known to man at that time) between 2 pieces of bread. I put it on the flat feeder and waited for the fun to begin. Sure enough, here came old Coonie, who shimmied up the post to the feeder. He started smackin' down on that sandwich in grand order, when suddenly he stopped: "What the heck???" Then he ran down the post, ran over to the swimming pool, dunked his head in the water, came out, shook off, ran in a circle three times, and then straight off to the woods! I nearly laughed myself silly. Wish I'd had it on camera - I'd have been $10,000 richer!!! (And PETA would have probably thrown paint bombs at my house!) And the following night? Well, he was back again, smackin' down on another sandwich, and it didn't seem to bother him at all. Must have burned his little taste buds off...!
Anne said…
Carole -

Thanks so much for sharing this story! I got a good laugh when I first read it and again when I shared it with the family at dinner. (None of us feel sympathetic to the creatures, deceptively cute though they may be.)
Tim's comment: "You can try to torment the varmints, but there's only one way to really get rid of them."

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