And when I say ‘me,’ I really mean the two opossum (pronounced possum) that scared them out of the coop and scattered them around my dark yard at 3 a.m.. They will kill and eat chickens. The reason I say it’s my fault is because I haven’t been shutting the coop door at night. I mostly leave the door open so I don’t have to wear my heels through the garden to open the door in the morning (when I leave for work). How selfish.
The good news is that everyone is safe and alive. Plus, I found that my dog is amazing at locating and herding lost chickens in the dark. It’s really a funny story now that I think about it.
Buttercup, Henny Penny & Hazel
Here’s how it went down.
I was awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of my chickens squawking and flapping around in the chicken coop. I got up, flipped on the porch light and ran outside using my bedroom’s exterior sliding door. I have a large dowel as a secondary lock for the door and that became my weapon. Keep in mind that I jumped out of bed so I’m doing all this while wearing __________. (I’ll let you use your imagination.)
I first assessed the chicken coop. There was a small opossum in the coop and Licorice was still in her little condo. I locked Licorice, my black silkie hen, in her condo to keep her safe and used the hose to scare the opossum out of the coop. I would like to point out that it was super handy to have the hose hooked up, turned on and ready to go – winterizing hoses is highly overrated. At this point I didn’t realize there was a much larger opossum out in the garden with my three other chickens.
Once I got the little guy out of the coop and got some shoes on, I went searching for the other chickens. I found Buttercup right away since he’s easy to spot – he’s my white silkie rooster. He was in the back part of the garden by the garage. His stance was very defensive and I didn’t realize why until I saw the BIG opossum just a couple feet from him. This is when the dowel became useful. I smacked the side of the wood raised bed next to the opossum (I still couldn’t hit it) until it waddled off. I grabbed Buttercup and put him back in the coop.
This is where it gets funny and Welly becomes useful. I can’t say I’m fan of wrangling chickens in the dark with predators milling about. Those of you with chickens can probably relate. Fortunately, I found Henny Penny pretty quick. She was in the path of the waddling creature so I reached down to pick her up… and she took off. Welly and I chased her around the yard for a couple minutes until we finally cornered her and I got her in the coop.
Hazel was near impossible to find. She’s my partridge silkie (speckled browns/black) and she huddles tight to the ground. What’s unnerving is that I found her inches from where I scared off the big opossum when I grabbed Buttercup. She was even harder to catch. This is when I realized how hard it is to touch a lump on the ground – in the dark – to see if it’s your chicken – to pick it up. It would’ve been much easier if I’d gone inside to get a head lamp but I didn’t want to leave the garden.
Welly must have noticed I was having issues since he started showing me where she was hiding. What a smart precious dog.
What Hazel would do is run squawking to a part of the yard and then hug the ground for invisibility. Welly would find her and bark for me. Then, I’d get super close to grab her and she’d run off again. Repeat. At one point I had the brilliant idea to throw one of my new large French laundry baskets over her (the ones I bought to keep the chickens out of the vegetable garden) and she flew through the gap in the wire instantly. Great. At least they look good?
Finally, Welly alerted me to her new location in the front yard and I was able to grab her before she ran off again. I closed the coop door and was grateful I was home when it happened and it wasn’t a work night. From now on I close the door every night.
My chickens still haven’t left the coop this morning. I’m not sure who traumatized them more, me or the opossums.