Sunday, November 16, 2014


Last night N and I went out for dinner with another couple.  Our babysitter showed up 10 minutes early and didn't have to call us once, the dinner was delicious, and afterwards we played a cooperative game at their home, during which I apparently acquitted myself well.  When we came home I actually made the mistake of saying, "Tonight could not have gone more smoothly!" 

And then I went out to close the chicken coop.  For some reason, N decided to come out with me ("I like you!" he said later, when I asked him what had inspired this extremely fortunate decision on his part.)  It was about 9pm, well past dark and much later than I usually close the coop, but I'd been reluctant to shut them all up before we left at 4pm. 

Now, many of you can already imagine what I'm going to write next.  It's not like I didn't know better.  I remember once several years ago, before I wanted chickens, someone telling me "Oh, yeah, we used to have five chickens, but-" and then I interrupted knowingly, "-but there was a hawk, or a racoon, or a dog, or a..."  So yeah, I know better.  When we got outside, we found six chicks huddled in the freezing cold at the far end of the run - very bizarre behavior - and inside the coop we found the rest of the chickens, dead, and a possum, very much alive.

So what did we do?  We killed the possum as quickly as possible, removed the worst part of the mess, and put the remaining chicks back in.  One of them was shaking so badly I was sure we would lose it, either from stress or exposure, but this morning the survivors all seem to be doing okay.  N and I have cancelled our plans for the day and will be building a new, more secure run.  I'm hopeful that killing the possum, building a better run, and being more diligent about closing the coop door will prevent such a tragedy from happening again. 

Regretting the whole thing won't do me, the chickens, or the possum any good at all, but I do anyway.


  1. 'Nature - red in tooth and claw'
    It doesn't seem so bad if the racoon had taken and eaten one chicken - that's how most carnivores survive - but to kill so many!
    This weekend we witnessed a sparrowhawk catch one of the garden birds and it sat at the back of the lawn plucking the blackbird and then eating it - all we found were the feathers.

  2. Yes...when it was all done I thought maybe we should have eaten the possum, to justify so much death. I buried them instead, so at least they didn't end up in a landfill