Shelley is a fourth generation rancher and farmer, a downright gorgeous strawberry blond 33-year-old woman with three young boys and a hardworking husband and all the makings of a Western picture show on their little spread.
She is also my sometime chicken guru.
So ... after our tragic loss last week, she got me a fatty hookup to some new 3-month-old hens. Phew. It's not quite the same as our hand-raised sweeties that the nasty raccoon ate, but it'll keep us in the egg business.
And not only did Shelley find me new hens, she went on the hunt. The raccoon hunt.
Think Annie Oakley without the Wild West show.
This woman, angry about my loss and fearing for the loss of her own flock, sat up nights for nearly a week and baited the nasty vermin with raw chicken (you know, from the grocery store). Then she sat in her master bedroom window with a shotgun, so as not to be detected, and waited.
Four nights in a row, no raccoon. But on the fifth night, just when she had begun to think it had eaten my six chicklets and moved on to another area, JACKPOT.
The bandit crept out of the creekbed and showed its fuzzy little head. The way Shelley tells it, she had the critter in her scope and her itchy manicured finger on the trigger.
Chickens countywide, be free! Be free range! Shelley has the pullet-eating raccoon dead to rights. I don't know what "dead to rights" means. Possibly I use it incorrectly.
And then, right behind the raccoon, five little raccoons. Tiny, baby, fluffballs of future raccoon evil followed their mamma out of the reeds to nosh on Shelley's bait offering.
Her finger faltered. She says she actually uttered a prayer. Should I shoot them, God? It's a mother and her five babies. No wonder she ate so many of Miriam's chickens. She's feeding a family. And this we can understand. Amen.
In the end, we'll just have to button up our coops a little tighter. Because the ranch-hardened redhead couldn't do it, and I don't blame her.
In other country news:
My other awesome neighbor rescued this spotted fawn. Someone tragically hit and killed the mamma doe when the fawn was less than 24 hours old. So Jamie is bottle-feeding goat milk to the fawn until animal rescue arrives.
We can't get too close, becaue the fawn shouldn't get used to humans. Sarah took these pictures.
And finally, finally, we got to pick Madeleine up from camp. Here she is (on the left) with the same homegirls I posted before and with whom she partied with all week:
Doesn't she look tired? And isn't she beautiful? She looks like that baby fawn to me.