It's a bit we do, the chickens and I.
They wake me up by making a completely unreasonable commotion at an obscene hour of the morning. I toss on some flip flops, trudge out into the yard in my pajamas, tell the chickens how rude they are, and let them out of the coop into the yard.
This morning, when I opened the gate to their run, the chickens literally flew out at top speed, clucking and yelling the whole way. "What is your problem, today?" I asked them. Being chickens and all. . . they didn't answer.
I opened the side of the coop to check on their food and water and a pair of surprised little eyes stared back at me.
I slammed the coop shut and counted the chickens.
1. . . 2. . . 3. . . 4.
All of the pairs of chicken eyes were in the yard and accounted for - wide eyed and watching me to see how I was going to protect them.
I peeked back into the coop to confirm that there really was a fifth animal in the coop.
"Yep," I thought, "There is definitely a raccoon in my chicken coop eating all my feed and eggs. Now what?"
I latched the coop and called the dog. She did that thing where she cocks her head and looks at me like I'm the most interesting thing in the world, but didn't budge. "COME HERE!" I commanded. If this thing came out of the coop, I wanted back up. The dog moseyed halfway across the yard and stopped to say good morning to the chickens. "Sparkle, you dumb dog! COME HERE!" Suddenly, she noticed there was something bad happening and she snapped to attention. She zipped across the yard, barking furiously. . . at the neighbor who was getting into his car.
I realized I needed a plan and that Sparkle wasn't going to be a participant in said plan.
A little face appeared at the back door.
"LEVI!" I shouted. "Go get Daddy! I need Daddy RIGHT NOW!"
"GET DADDY! Tell him it's an emergency and I need him NOW."
"It's a what?"
"An EMERGENCY, buddy! This is a use your shouting help voice and get Daddy emergency. GO!"
While I waited for my son to come back with my husband, I kept my self between the raccoon occupied chicken coop and the actual chickens. I also told the dog she's an idiot.
Levi appeared back at the door. "Daddy says, 'what's the emergency?'"
"Oh for Pete's sake! There's a stupid RACCOON in the chicken coop and I could REALLY USE SOME BACK UP!"
"Huh. Wow. How'd the raccoon get in there? Did you trap it? Is it cute? Can I see it? I can help! Where are the chickens? Hi Sparkl. . . "
"GO GET DADDY!"
This time the dog followed my son into the house and I was left alone with the chickens and the raccoon. "Good riddance." I told them.
Slowly, but surely, my husband made his way downstairs and joined me in the yard with 4 traumatized hens and a startled baby raccoon.
"What do we do?" I asked him.
"Seriously? I have a raccoon trapped in the chicken coop and you can't think of anything? I mean. . . we have to get it out of there. How about a dog crate? We scare it out of the coop, into the dog crate, slam it shut, and call animal control."
"That sounds like a terrible idea."
"Do you have a better one?"
I considered sending him back in to get Sparkle. At least she chased the neighbor away. It was a worse plan than mine, but what do you expect from a dog?
"OK. How about this. . ." I started, "I'm going to take this shovel here. I'm going to stand in front of the chickens. You get that shovel there." I have no idea why we had so many shovels in the yard, for the record. "You open the coop and chase it out of the yard while I protect the chickens. Then I'll get a raccoon trap and set it up tonight and call animal control when we actually catch this little jerk."
"That sounds better than the first idea."
I opened the gate so it would be easy for the raccoon to escape the yard. I held my shovel firmly like a baseball bat ready to defend my flock from the local riffraff.
Tim opened the coop.
"Aw. Hi little guy! Hey, look! He's kinda cute!"
"He's NOT CUTE!" I corrected, "He's a freaking raccoon and he ATE MY BREAKFAST!"
"Oh. . . admit it. He's a little cute!"
"OK, fine. ready?"
I gripped my shovel tighter. My husband opened the second door of the coop and shooed the bandit out. The frightened animal streaked out of the chicken coop and straight toward me and the chickens! This is the sort of thing that my running buddy and I call "instant cardio."
I swung the shovel with all my might while the chickens yelled chicken obscenities at the invader. I've never been known for my baseball skills and there is a valid reason for that. I couldn't hit a raccoon with the broad end of a shovel if my chickens' lives depended on it. Fortunately for my chickens, their lives didn't depend on it this morning. The raccoon was spooked enough by the fact that I even swung the shovel (I'm sure it wasn't actually trying to do harm to me or the chickens, it was just scared and trying to figure out how to exit the yard), it changed course and ran under the fence on the opposite corner of the yard from the gate we'd left wide open for it.
Levi reappeared at the door. "Hey guys. . . can I see the raccoon? Where'd it go? Was it cute? I bet it was cute. Are the chickens OK? Did we get any eggs today. . . "
Clearly, it's Monday today.