Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Banshee

Whenever I tell this story, everybody gets a good laugh, so I figured I would post it because it's somewhat a spin off on the topic of the day:  Food/Environment.

As I mentioned in April, I am a chicken co-owner, but the coop is at my house.  My friend and I decided to raise our own chickens for fresh organic eggs, and it's been well worth it!  At first, we dealt with moles and/or voles around the coop area, which seemed to have disappeared this fall, but we were having new fecal matter in the coop.  The week prior to this event, the nesting box broke and since we were considering how we were going to build the new coop, which included moving the whole thing, I wanted to make sure nothing was living under the coop that could hurt us.  I didn't think anything of it, until I heard the Banshee.

I just got home around 9pm, and settled in to get some homework done that was due that night at midnight.  All of a sudden I heard this loud shriek from outside "EEEEEEEEEEEEEE" with a flutter of wings and loud noises from the chickens.  I didn't know what to make of the noise at first because I have never heard it before.  Was that the feral cat outside trying to get at the chickens again?  I grabbed a flashlight and headed outside cautiously because I wasn't sure if the thing that startled the chickens was inside the coop or wandering around the gated area that we had.  (To better understand our setup, a picture of it is below.)  There was the potential that it could try and attack me too if it was not on the inside.  As I wave the flashlight back and forth across the yard, I walked in the direction of the chicken coop.  I first shine the light on the chickens who are huddled together by the gate entrance and then I survey the area.  Beady eyes look at me as he stood still on one of the chicken perches.  I glared at the possum and thought "How in the world did you get in there?!?!"  But then I realized that we were giving him a lot of great food!  Not only in the coop area was he getting eggs, but he was also getting leftover chicken feed and/or the moles/voles.  AND...right next to the gated chicken area is my compost pile!  No wonder why he was around.  In all honesty, seeing him on the perch, I realized all the possum wanted to do was "hang" with the chickens on their perches, and they decided to be high maintenance and not want him around.  I don't blame the chickens by any means.  After seeing the culprit, I called my chicken co-owner, who was already in bed, and then my boyfriend who gave me strict orders "not to go in and remove the possum myself."  I can't help but be injury prone...  When I got back out there with my cell phone, the possum had already left.  Ironically, about a week later, he climbed up my oak tree in a rain storm.

We still need to re-do the coop, but we assume that the possum is getting in from the backside.  He hasn't been much of a bother, if any at all, since we turned on the heating lamp for the winter.

L. Composting piles.  R. Chicken area with wooden coop (prior to having chickens)

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