Saturday, June 28, 2008

Who Was That Masked Mamma?

You all should really meet my neighbor Shelley. She makes my meek attempts at farmchickiness looks like outright cityslickerness.

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.

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.


Barb said...

She's utterly, utterly gorgeous. Congratulations on making it through sleep-away camp. We've never done that here...

Farm Chick said...

OH your babies! I am truly sorry that you lost chickies again! You have had the worst luck.....(Knock on wood for my own chicks and for the future of your new babies).....I can't imagine how crappy you must feel, well yeah I can ya told me;P

OH our babies are growing up to be young ladies! Get yer shot guns. These girls are heart breakers! :)

the160acrewoods said...

she is gorgeous! looks contently tired! lol

i'm sorry about your racoon problem... here i can hear the coyotes at night... so far my dogs have been doing their duty and yelling at them to stay away!

ps, if you look like a city slicker, i look like i'm the queen cuz so far i suck at this farming thing lol

Jade said...

I love your stories. The fawn reminds me of when I was in Australia. The same thing happens to kangaroos. The mom will get hit/killed by a car and the joeys are orphaned. Left to be taken care of kind people. They even sew up the bottom of cardigans and hang them on the backs of chairs to replicate the pouch.

tricki_nicki said...

What an awesome story!