Wait a second. A dead chicken...no, make that two. Three? FOUR!!!
Later on that day, I would discover that a fifth had been wounded by the marauding night time chicken slayer.
Sunday the 13th...I found another dead bird. This one half eaten through the chicken wire. Upset, but unable to do anything about it, I barged into the house to continue my preparations to go to church.
The live trap had been set as of Saturday afternoon. There was no sign of any varmint activity from Sunday morning, but the trap sat, baited and waiting--just in case.
This morning, Wednesday, the 16th, I began my morning rounds. First coop. One dead bird, one wounded (broken leg and ripped up back), and one--well, I never did determine what was wrong with Mr. Roo Number-Who-Know-What.
I pulled all three birds out, knowing that the two live ones weren't going to go anywhere--one could barely stand, much less walk or run, and the other...well he was spending an inordinate amount of time lying on his back. Chickens do not rest on their backs.
I went along and fed the rest of the chickens and about the time I was heading for Coop #5, I happened to glance at the trap (my coops are spread about a bit; I simply cannot see the trap from the first couple of coops) and it was closed...with something inside.
That something turned out to be a gray possum. Nasty critter opened his mouth in a menacing sort of way when I walked up. I left him comfortably full from the bait and continued my chores.
Once I had the next batch of mash on to soak, I collected a pan, a right glove, and my most faithful .22 S&W, and sharpened my pocket knife. It was, I might add, the best sharpening job that old knife has had in a while. I really was a bit surprised. I usually have trouble getting such a keen edge.
I went out and seeing my birds were still where they were supposed to be, I strode up the hill and took a pot-shot at my caged creature. I call it a pot shot because it missed. But not because I can't hit a stationary possum from three feet. The bullet hit the cage--which I didn't realize until I leaned a little closer to see why Booger wasn't in the process of dying. Oh.
Next shot, I slid the end of my barrel through the wire and pulled the trigger. I knew the animal was going to react when the lead hit him, but I still jumped. I felt rather stupid about that afterwards.
I left him to thrash while I collected up my birds. I then did the butchering and dressing job that needed doing.
Clean up included removing the possum from the trap and re-setting it "just in case" and tossing possum and feather mess into the field.
Thus closes the first edition of "The Chicken Chronicles".
Except for one minor detail--this all took place before breakfast.................