The raccoon predations on the chickens have continued to the point where the sheep barn has also been cleared of chickens, and the chickens roosting beside SwampMan’s workshop have also been victimized.
Ruby, the beautiful red Doberman Pinscher that died a couple years ago, used to keep the place absolutely vermin free, and I suppose it has taken this long for her memory to die among the local critters. SwampMan and I would come home from a trip to the store or an occasional movie, and Ruby would greet us at the fence, wagging her entire rear end, and prance up to the patio where she had proof of her devotion to duty laid out for our perusal. There would be a neat, evenly spaced row of the bodies of assorted varmints laid out in front of her food bowl, which was filled with her favorite squeaky toys. The death toll would include possums, rats, squirrels, snakes (which scared the heck outta me but she was never bitten), and the occasional raccoon.
Ruby’s only weak point as a stock guardian/defender was an inability to distinguish chicks from ducklings. When she would find an unattended chick, she would pick it up gently, gently in her mouth and carry it to her water bucket and plop it in. Sometimes I would hear the hysterical peeping for rescue and be able to fish out the little victim before the down became waterlogged and it went under. Often I would find the little body or bodies when I went to clean and refill her water bucket. Perhaps, rather than altruism, it was just a passive/aggressive way of dealing with the way chickens stole from the food bowl.
Odie, my old blind/deaf pointer mix, was a great stock dog. I left him out with the chickens a few nights ago only to be awakened in the predawn hours by frantic chickens screeching for help. I opened the gate to let puppy out; he immediately raced to the gate on the driveway. I opened it, and he pursued something into the woods. Following chicken cries for help (a hen, as it turns out), I was able to retrieve something’s intended dinner and return her to her rooster who was out braving the dark in search of her.
I let puppy patrol the entire place the past two nights and haven’t been awakened by chickens screeching bloody murder. In fact, when I glanced outside at dawn, puppy was lying down calmly watching chickens eat the food out of his food bowl. A little later, I heard barking and growling in the sheep pasture where he was threatening something beyond the fence. Ewes and lambs were fine and not at all concerned about the proximity of the dog.
Guess puppy has turned into a stock guard dog now. I’ll still keep him in the kennel when we aren’t home just because he’s still a puppy, after all.
In other local news, another varmint to have to worry about getting into the chickens.
Put a 12′ python into a pillowcase? While I will admit that I will gently gather cute little rattlesnakes up onto shovels and place them across the fence into the woods where they belong so they can eat the cute little rats and mice, and I will poke the bigger timber rattlers with a long stick until they get annoyed enough to slither off the property, any critter big enough to swallow small grandchildren is going to be executed. Immediately.