Regular readers will know that I lost my favourite hen a while ago, my beloved Buffy:
All evidence pointed to a weasel, particularly as one was suspected of killing a neighbour’s hens. We have had a (quite spectacularly-dramatic) turn of events today, that leads us to suspect otherwise.
First, the weasel traps remain empty. There are any number of reasons that might be so, and it’s impossible to prove a negative, but we have no hard evidence that there are weasels on our property. Yet.
Second, The Man was looking out the kitchen window around lunchtime today and saw a skunk right by the eastern side of the barn. I hadn’t considered a skunk as a possible perpetrator when Buffy died; she was killed during the day, and skunks are nocturnal, right? Not if they’re rabid, they aren’t.
The Man saw the skunk weaving and turning erratically and knew to keep his distance, for more reasons than one. The skunk died mysteriously of lead poisoning a few moments later.
(Sorry about the poor quality of the photo. I was loathe to get very close, as one might imagine. I was upwind, as it was.)
So, did the skunk kill Buffy? It’s possible. Like weasels, skunks will chew at the neck to drain the body of blood, and the fact our cats hadn’t been out for a few days prior might have emboldened him. They are slow moving and have poor eyesight, but a very keen sense of smell, and the brush by the barn doors might have helped him. Certainly, something has been in the barn at night (but not the coop), helping himself to the fuzzy fleeces that line the nests. Hey, it’s cold; wouldn’t you?
So, did the skunk kill Buffy? I have no idea. We’ll burn the body and keep baiting the weasel traps and see what happens. I do know two things for sure:
1) Killer or no, a rabid animal simply must be dispatched. We all saw Old Yeller, right?
2) Damn, the barn stinks. And it’s going to for a good long while…
UPDATED: Have just found a huge hole in this theory…
If the skunk killed Buffy, it would have to have done so while rabid, as she died during the day, right? Buffy died exactly one month ago today. Could a rabid skunk live so long?