Friday, February 28, 2014

Life lessons from a masked bandit.

Cornered, yet another life-lesson from the barnyard.
In continuation of my previous post about the masked bandit in the chicken barn, here's the rest of the story.

After a little research I learned that raccoons mate between February and March. This explains why our newest visitor arrived in the barn a few days ago. Then apparently raccoons have their little kits in April.

I've always thought raccoons to be some of the coolest little animals, with their human like paws and their smarts and their athleticism. Yet I'm fully aware that these lil guys are also wild and as wild animals do, survival is the name of the game.

Judging by the fact that broken egg shells have been on the barn floor the past 2-3 days, and that upon my entering the barn at dusk two nights ago and some of the chickens were roosting in the rafters and not on their usual perches (even the turkeys were eyeing higher ground) it was obvious that the birds knew they were sitting ducks for the next strike.

I suppose that chickens probably don't have emotions anything like humans, but they clearly understand immanent danger after they've witnessed the "offing" of one of their own. (Remembering here the gutted hen recently found laying frozen by the entrance to the barn).

Taking an animal life isn't something I would pick to do given the choice. Like euthanizing a wild bear after it has killed a human, sometimes the choices are made for us. Cornered into having to make a decision you don't want to make.

The moral of the story here is, the chickens and turkeys are safe again. No more masked bandit around to prey on them unsuspecting. In times like this I am reminded of those who lived here many years ago and what it might have been like to live in such a place where your livestock meant an increase in your own chances of survival. Where your farm animals were so very important that any threat to them became a threat to you and your family.

While my life isn't anywhere near that sort of experience, raising any animals means that I take responsibility for their care and safety at the very least. Choosing to live in the country will always mean run-ins with the wild. Which also means challenges and the ensuing difficult choices will have to be made.  I just hope that through these experiences I am shaped into a wiser and more aware individual and can pass along this knowledge to others. Sure beats sitting around watching TV!

Rest in peace mr. raccoon.  Thank you for the life lessons.

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