It’s taken me a while to write this post, not because I was waiting for something to happen, but because it was just too damned depressing.
I’ve been watching Frankenfeeder from my kitchen window, to be sure the hens get it. Wednesday morning, I poured the morning’s scratch into the mouths of the feeders and into the wagon itself, rather than on the ground, so they’d be sure to get it. Right?
Yes! If by “they” you mean the blue jays and the squirrels. I was too damned depressed to take a pic for you of the hens scratching in the grass around the wagon for scratch that wasn’t there, while two squirrels and three blue jays chowed down on the scratch in the wagon, mere inches away.
I am not even kidding a little bit.
Unable to stand it any longer, I went outside, chased off the interlopers, and planted a hen or two in the middle of the wagon. It wasn’t until I placed Trixie on the edge of the wagon that the penny dropped, and they all fell in line.
And, if it were only that, I could put up with it. I believe in tithing when living in harmony with Nature; ten percent goes to the deer and the chipmunks and the birds. (That said, note to whoever is chomping all my collards: you’re really starting to piss me off.)
But there is a more sinister threat to the Frankenfeeder. Remember that night I raced home after dark to be sure the chickens were okay? Remember why I was racing?
Yes, gentle reader, you remember correctly; we are currently hosting a raccoon in the barn at night. Let me get you caught up. This raccoon, whether it be the same raccoon or another I neither know nor care, has had quite a bit of success, even with all our countermeasures. Remember this?
This is (was) The Man’s solution to the raccoon feasting on the scratch. It worked really well. For a while. The raccoon’s dogged determination and super-raccoon strength allowed him access to the contents of the bin by lifting the lid and sliding it over two inches: still strapped on, but with a sliver of tempting yumminess. While the bin was fuller and the contents of the bin were higher, he had a good fill one night, as far as his little armpits would allow.
We plugged that hole in the dyke by securing a strap over the lid (the kind used to strap things to the roof of a car). This has proved too much for the raccoon, but not for lack of trying; there are paw prints all over the black strap, and the plastic of the metal cord has been chewed through.
And, much to my astonishment, he managed to get the lid off the storage tube of the coop feeder, round the back of the coop. Remember this?
He got that top cap off and fed, again, up to his armpits. This one was easily remedied enough (I think. I haven’t been back there in a few days.) My chief concern for the top of the storage tube was keeping out mice, and so I secure the cap quite loosely, so I can get into it. (Think this is easy? Go to your local Home Depot, to the plumbing section. I’ll wait. Get a 4-inch cap and put it securely on the end of a 4-inch tube. See if you can get it off.)
Back to the Frankenfeeder. The first night with the Frankenfeeder was fine; it was outside. It rained the second day, so I brought it inside. Safer? Yes?
I opened the barn doors the next morning to find that the raccoon had successfully removed one of the caps, and had fed (say with with me) up to his armpits.
All this to say, the raccoon has met with quite a bit of success in reward for his determination. There have been a few nights where he has walked away with a bellyful of certified-organic, high-protein positive reinforcement. He’s going to be around for a while.
I can hear you asking why we haven’t trapped again. I’m not a huge fan of relocating, for all the reasons I’m sure you know, and even less of shooting. It was my cherished hope that if I could just make the food hard enough to get to, over a length of time, he would give up and turn to greener pastures. That was the plan, anyway. He is a worthy opponent.
It goes without saying that I secured the caps and plugs very tightly Wednesday at dusk, knowing that the next time I went to open them, I’d be in for a fight. I actually had difficulty getting to sleep thinking about the raccoon getting into my brand-new, long-dreamed-of feeder. It was just so damned galling.
Yesterday morning, I opened the barn doors with trepidation. How much feed had he got to this time? And how?
This is what I saw:
What the… Like a closer look?
What is the fluffy white stuff? If you guessed shredded toilet paper, you’re right!! Yup, he went through the duct tape and burrowed through the roll of toilet paper until he became discouraged and gave up.
As I have. A chickeneering friend asked me why it is again that I was putting feeders outside the coop, and I really had to strain to remember. Oh, yes: because I felt my flock was too thin, and I’d need them for the turkeys next spring. At this point, I’m thinking that my chickens can haul their lazy butts into the coop where there are 2 (two) feeders, and I’ll address the turkey thing around July, when it becomes an issue.
Because I am done dancing with this raccoon.