Sunday, July 12, 2009

One Less Possum

This morning about 4:00 am one of the dogs roused me from sleep. They do this sometimes, usually Lysander will have to go out to relieve himself at unholy hours of the morning. I don't know why since he's beyond four years old and a big dog, so he should sleep through the night, but Barry says he's spoiled rotten, so that's why he likes to roam the back yard at night. Here is a photo of him in my working hat. Isn't he cute?

Anyway, I digress. This morning the dogs got me up and I staggered sleepily to the back door and opened it. Usually they mosey out to do their business, but this time they shot out the door like the hounds of hell were behind them. Then I heard what they had: our rooster, Big Boy, cackling loudly. He wasn't crowing, he was yelling, putting up an alarm. I didn't hesitate, I grabbed the maglite flashlight and took off running, down the crazy granite steps, through the dog yard full of tree roots to trip me up, across the field trying to avoid the chicken tractor and the field of corn (did I mention I was in my pajamas and didn't have on my glasses?). I ran up to the chicken pen, and all the chickens were out there. The chickens are out? Chickens should be asleep! The rooster was still raising the alarm when I heard the most gawd-awful sound--like someone was sitting on a duck and jumping up and down to make it wheeze. Terrible! I ran around the corner to the barn and into the chicken room. The sound was coming from under the egg nests. I shined the light there and my brain made sense of what I saw before I could put words to it: POSSUM! A damn possum was trying to eat one of my chickens! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!!! (I used other words, but I think you can imagine them) I yelled "Get away from her you bastard!", and this was loud enough to get Barry's attention in the house, he tells me.

The possum moved reluctantly away from the chicken, and I looked around for something I could use to bludgeon the thing. Leaning against the wall were several metal fence posts. They weren't there yesterday, but boy am I glad they were there today. I grabbed one and with the flashlight in one hand and my fence post in the other I stared down the beast. It cocked its evil little eye at me, then back at the chicken. It wanted to try for her again. The chicken was moaning in fear and agony and I kept telling her, "It's okay sweetie, you'll be fine, just let me kill this [insert really bad word here] and I'll help you". The possum started to move and I let out a war cry and plunged my trusty sword down and into it and almost through the barn wall. It jumped and contorted and squeaked, but it couldn't get away because I had it pinned. I reached over to the roosting area and picked up the chicken with one hand (still holding the Evil Thing with the post in the other) and placed her behind me on another chicken shelf. She would not stop screaming, and a chicken screaming is an ugly sound, let me tell you.

At this point I was torn. If I let up on the beast he might still be able to run away, but I couldn't just hold him there forever, and if I put down the light I couldn't see to stab him again. Luckily at this point in the narrative the brave hero came through the door: Barry stepped into the barn saying "What the bloody hell is going on?" I was completely rushed on adrenaline at this point and could hardly speak, but he saw what was happening, said a few bad words and then picked up his own fence post. "Shall I kill it?", says he, "YES!!!", says I. And he did, vigorously, several times. Would you believe that possum was twitching for ten minutes? I made Barry haul it out of the barn and onto the fields with the Medea-like curse, "Let the hawks have him!". The Really Dead Possum the next day--he is a big specimen.

We examined our victim chicken and she was covered in blood, but seemed fine when looked at more closely, just missing a lot of feathers. We think one of her legs is broken, probably in trying to get away from the possum. She eventually calmed down and we took her back to the house with us and kept her in a small dog crate. She was fine for the night. She is now isolated in a crate in the same area with the other chickens, but since she is 'damaged' they would attack and hurt her, but we are hoping she can recover eventually. If not, then we will do the right thing by her. Poor Big Boy the rooster has lost all his tail feathers, his beautiful plume, and has a sore butt to prove it. My new favorite wound treatment is propolis spray, which is a gift from the bees. Great stuff, which I highly recommend for animals and humans alike.

We think this is the same possum who got one of our sitting Cochins about a month ago, but she wasn't in the barn with a rooster, so today's attack was a bold move on his part. He lost his chips, though, and human intervention won the day. Let's hope we can win future battles. I'll keep a fence post handy.
Big Boy before and after the attack. Poor guy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Little Plant Laughed

The potatoes were a surprise harvest yesterday. The cabbage were shouting at me to pull them out and peel off the layers of slugs that had taken over (if it's good enough for a slug, it's good enough for us!), but the potatoes were a quiet victory. They didn't flower much, so Barry insisted it wasn't time yet to pull them up, and who am I to argue with a Welshman, not actually Irish only because of a little bit of water between them. I couldn't just leave those two sad, brown potato plants in the ground any longer, so I pulled them up: nothing on the end of it, oh well, the potatoes haven't come. Then I stuck my hand in the soil (because I can't leave anything alone) and lo and behold, there are potatoes down there--actual, edible potatoes! At least ten good sized spuds, all from two little chunks of potato with a sprouting eye on it back in early May. Now THAT is some powerful magic! The garlic came up the same way. I planted one little clove per hole back in November, then magic happens and each clove has turned into a whole bulb of tasty, organic garlic. Man, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Well, we got a little, teeny, tiny bit of rain today. Not enough to really do much, but better than nothing. When I went out to the garden to check on things, I found these tasty morsels: The slicing tomatoes are very slowly starting to turn red and pink. I re-tied many of the tomato vines that are getting heavy with fruit. The squash are taking over out there and it is like some strange sci-fi movie, "Attack of the fast-growing squash!". We can hardly put down a foot without almost stepping on another fruit. It is really very exciting to find these little presents every morning. Kind of like a tasty Christmas daily. I knew I would enjoy growing things, I just never had the time and space to do it. I'm trying to be good about keeping records, but that isn't really my style, so some info gets lost, like the Amazing Squash type that I planted. I can't for the life of me remember what it is. I can't find the seed packet, either. I started off writing everything down, but that stopped during the heavy rains since I couldn't write outside. This forgetfulness, or lack of attention seems to be doubled since this plant is growing better than any other in my garden, mocking me with its fruitfulness. Do plants have a sense of humor? Probably.