Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

A possum (yes, I know that's "opossum" but all the locals leave off the "o") raided the chicken house night after night. Once the ghastly, white faced, sharp fanged, stupid, hissing, rocking, filthy creatures had discovered my chickens, nothing deterred them. In a single night four hens were beheaded and then left. It couldn't have killed one and finished eating it--he had to take one bite of four different hens, my fine, beautiful, multicolored Araucana Easter egg hens.

The only solution was to lock them up at night. Most of them roosted at night anyway, so it was only a matter of catching a few stragglers, tossing them in the door, and bolting it. The possums couldn't open the door, and I stopped losing chickens.

One tired night I forgot to lock them in. The possums didn't forget, and I lost some more. It became imperative not to forget even once.

Storms would sometimes arrive one right after the other in a steady succession that kept up for hours, even days. Now, the chicken house was at the crest of a hill, next to a tree line that had been struck several times by lightning. Examining those trees was mighty awe inspiring, especially the ones that had become a scattered pile of splinters. Being reluctant to go up there during severe thunderstorms, and having experienced them in long successive chains that continued long into the night, I was left with a dilemma: risk lightning, or lose my chickens. I watched eagerly for hours, hoping it would let up for even a few minutes, but every time one storm moved out another moved right in. My stomach hurt at the thought of both dangers, one of which I would have to choose by nightfall.

Finally in late afternoon all the thunder stopped. I looked outside. The atmosphere above had a reddish tint in a sky wide, impenetrable cloud bank. I watched for several minutes. No lightning.

I ventured out. I stopped by the dog pen to get my faithful border collie. The dog, quite uncharacteristically, refused to come out of her house. After much coaxing I gave up and went on without her. (I will always ever after trust a dog's good instinct.)

The wind became strong. I ran. A gust of it knocked me to the ground. I got up and ran some more. Turning a corner revealed in the southern sky a large, twisted mass of slowly circulating clouds that formed a black, nasty tower from ground to sky. An older, wiser person would have known what that was, but I was fifteen and a novice, more concerned with avoiding lightning than the cloud. I kept a close eye on it, caught all the chickens in record speed (especially since none of them had roosted yet), and ran for the house, fighting the wind.

The pillared cloud moved off to the north east, doing no damage. As if to mock me, within an hour the sun came out, and we had a lovely sunset full of vivid colors and gentle breezes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Poet,
    I'm a Southern girl so I call them possums too. This is something I didn't know, that possums would attack chickens. I always thought they were scavengers.
    We have several here and had no problems, they seem to be afraid of our cat who pretty much ignores them.
    Hope you haven't had any of the tornadoes that have been happening today.