Country Living Challenges: Keeping Chickens (Alive)

Our beautiful and obnoxious rooster, Cappy, woke us this morning with his raspy sunrise song. On a typical morning, there’d have been nothing unusual about this, but we were surprised to hear his voice. When we went outside, there he was, drenched with rain and looking irate on the front steps.

Usually, roosters don’t hang out on the front steps.

It all started on Saturday. Last week, we lost several of our hennies. Evert day or two, one or more would go missing. On Saturday night, I didn’t check the birds, but at about midnight I heard clucking and squawking outside my bedroom window. I charged around the house like a lunatic in a state of undress, searching for a flashlight. I couldn’t find one, so I ran outside and switched on the truck’s headlights. Nothing. I ran back in and found the flashlight, put on some more clothes and went out to stalk the night predators. I treed a raccoon on power pole in the yard, but couldn’t find a chicken. After looking, I went to the coop and counted. Everyone was home except Cappy. I figured he was lost.

I didn’t see a trace of Cappy in the morning which I didn’t find strange. Usually, when a chicken goes missing, it’s just gone without a trace except maybe for a few feathers strewn around the site of the kill. I went on with my life and started checking on the birds before bed, finding Windsor in a tree, Sunday night, and lifting her out to stick her in the henhouse where she belongs. It wasn’t until Monday that I saw Cappy again, scratching in the chicken yard like he’d never been gone. It was like seeing a ghost. Sean and I had to lift him and WIndsor out of the trees that night.

Tuesday, we came home a little after dark to find Windsor’s feathers all over the chicken yard, one of the babies torn to bits in the henhouse, and Cappy missing. Sean grabbed the .22 and managed a shot at the raccoon that was still gnawing on Windsor at the back of the chicken yard. He missed the shot and the chicken-thief got away. It’s devastating each time we lose a bird. We try to take care of them, but there’s not much we can do when a coon has learned to go into the henhouse in daylight. Later that night, after we cleaned up the mess and went to bed, we heard clucking and squawking out the window, a repeat of Saturday. We ran out and found a bedraggled looking Cappy, tailfeatherless, sitting on the ground by the back door. We tucked him in and went back to bed.

He was gone last night when we get home, and every day we assume he’s not coming back, but so far he’s proven resilient. He looks ridiculous, strutting around and naked in patches where critters have been at him, and this morning he was soaked to the skin to boot. I wanted to laugh: “The emperor has no clothes!”

Cappy may not be pretty, but he’s tough, which I guess is what counts if you’re a country chicken.

We’re on the lookout for new hens. It’s down to Cappy, Freckles, and the two remaining chicks, who I believe are boys. Remember when we were getting a half-dozen eggs a day? Those days are long gone, no thanks to Chunky and Co.

3 thoughts on “Country Living Challenges: Keeping Chickens (Alive)

  1. I wish this had a dislike button! I hate raccoons in the chicken coop! He will keep coming back. Can you try to catch him in a live trap? Sorry for your loss.

  2. Marshmallows in a live trap to catch him, the .22 to take care of the problem. Caught three raccoon after our first chicken was killed and hadn’t seen any since, until they got into the trash a couple weeks ago

  3. Pingback: Cappy Returns | chasing piggens

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