Raccoons, Roosters & Rain, Oh My!

Feb 27th

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then you know just how miserably wet it has been this winter. I’m not talking typical, Seattle misting and gray clouds, I’m talking completely soaking, moldy, muddy, muckiness. If I wasn’t ready to move somewhere sunnier before, I sure am now.

Needless to say the girls (ahem, and boy) haven’t been too impressed. Even though their Run is completely covered by a barn-red metal roof, the rain has just as often been coming in sideways as it does straight down. Pine shavings + poo + rain = nastiness. My pine shavings bill has been going up almost as high as my electric bill. Sigh.

And rain hasn’t been the only trouble in the hen house. About 2 months ago I double took at one of our “pullets”, Ginger, we recently introduced in October. Wait, what’s with that tail? At the same time Ginger’s compatriot, Turmeric, surprised us with delightfully pastel blue eggs. As I kept an eye on Ginger, I realized there was no question. Ginger wasn’t Ginger, Ginger was Mr. Ginger. Oh crap.

If I lived out in the burbs, this wouldn’t be a problem. But I don’t (at least not yet anyways). I live in South Seattle – where the ordinances clearly say NO ROOSTERS! For the time, I ignored the issue. I read that in some cases hen-pecked roosters will keep their mouth shut. I hope and prayed that Blackberry – our head hen – would keep Mr. Ginger under wraps.

Last week my hopes were shattered. At 5:30 AM I heard a funny sound. Wait, what is that. I leaned my head toward the window, concentrating. Oh crap! It was an unmistakable Errr-Errr-Er-A-Errrrrrrrr. Oh no. Oh noooo. This isn’t good. I quickly dashed out to shush Mr. Ginger. He just looked at me, and I swear mockingly, crowed off again. Please, pretty pleeeaase stop?!?!

Well, this isn’t going to solve itself. I knew I could return the little cockerel back to the farm store I got him from. They’d send him to a “farm”. But I’ve grown rather attached to the little guy. That’s when another idea settled in. Why don’t I ship him off to cornfield-Indiana to live at Whimsical Moon Farm with my Mom & Sister? Mom to the rescue. Mom quickly agreed and it looks like our little Roo will be taking the express route halfway across the country this week.

In the mean time, Todd and I have been taking turns tag-teaming Mr. Ginger whenever he decides to announce himself. Last week, on one such trip, Todd went outside and tried to calmly quiet him down. Except this time, something was off. Thistle, our gentle-natured Lavender Orpington was agitated too. She stretched her neck up high, peering over the wood panels that lines the lower portion of the run to keep the bedding in. Todd followed her gaze and saw what at first looked like a dog. Yes Thistle, I see it, it’s just a dog. But then Todd looked closer through the slats in the fencing. Oh, that isn’t a dog – it’s a Raccoon! Todd went inside to grab a ladder. He put the ladder against the fence, scrambled up and did his best to scare the critter away Ok, off you go, get outta here. Come on, move it! Except the raccoon didn’t move. He just stared sheepishly back. That’s when Todd heard the rustling above him. The little bugger had a friend. And that friend was up in the tree, apparently trying to find a way to crawl on top of the roof that covers the chicken run. Now things made sense. Todd finally succeeded in spooking off the raccoons. But the sighting made us concerned. After losing our precious hen Clover last fall, we weren’t taking any chances. We added a second hasp to the primary door of the coop and secured the sliding window we use grab the food. There’s no way we are losing another girl to a hungry predator.

The next morning I woke up with my alarm at 4:30 AM. Shortly after I heard this terrible shrieking sound. At first I thought it was a cat fight. Then I realized it had to be the raccoons. Todd woke up and beat me out the door (how do guys do that?) and we pinpointed the noise from coming from the ravine that abuts our property. The hens (and boy) were fine, tucked away asleep. Phew.

Since then, there hasn’t been another sighting. But the rain continues. Along with a dash of snow here and there. All of us here at Humblebee can’t wait for spring!