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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Last week Mike came running inside and said, “I SAW A TIGER!!! A TIGER”

Me:  You saw a tiger and left your brothers outside in the driveway?

Mike (running to the door and screaming)  Nate, Jake hurry come here!  There’s a TIGER out there!!!!

Dave:  We don’t live in the jungle.  There are no tigers here.

Mike:  Really, I saw a tiger.  It was as tall as my waist and it was orange with black stripes.

We assured him we believed that he did see something, but it most assuredly was not a tiger, possibly a golden retriever or maybe a plain old cat.

Mike:  IT WAS NOT A CAT, IT WAS A TIGER.

He spent the rest of the day mumbling about how he couldn’t believe we didn’t believe him about the tiger.

****

Yesterday, Marshall was sitting on the front porch reading a book.  He was all by himself.  Amazingly, sitting very quietly.  He came running inside, quietly.

HURRY COME QUICKLY!!!  (don’t you love how well my kids use adverbs)  BUT BE QUIET!

A BOB CAT JUST CROSSED THE DRIVEWAY!

We all ran outside, but there was no evidence of a bobcat.

Me:  What did it look like?

Marshall:  It was tan and about twice the size of Frank.

Me:  Wow!

Mike:  WHAT?!? Why do you believe Marshall but not me?

Me:  Because Marshall had more believable observations.  He chose an animal that lives on this continent.

****

Last night Dave and I dropped Mckayla and a friend off at the movies and made a short trip to Home Depot, aka where we deposit Dave’s paycheck to build a tree houset.  I received a phone call from home.

Marshall:  Mom, there’s a bobcat sitting in front of the bunny hutch.

Me:  WHAT?!

Marshall:  There’s a bobcat sitting in front of the bunny hutch.  What should we do?

Me:  Okay, first make sure everyone is inside and then go get my camera and take a picture.

Marshall:  Everyone is inside and we already took a ton of pictures.  We wanted to make sure you guys believed us this time.

Me:  This is why I leave you in charge!  Good job.  We’re almost home.

When we got home we drove around the backside of our circle drive to sneak up on the bobcat.  If you have ever heard my van, you will know that sneak is really a rather generous word.  It squeaks and hums and clicks and is generally noisy all around.  I have decide to be optimistic about my noisy van.  I figure it gives all the bicyclist and pedestrians ample warning that there is a car behind them.   So as we circled the driveway, we expected to find nothing on our front lawn but a scared bunny.

What we were shocked to see a rather large cat at the bunny hutch.

bobcat

Just pretend we have a nicely mowed and weedless lawn.

This bobcat was fearless!  It didn’t even budge when we got out of the car.  When Dave was about 5 feet away from him, he finally decided to saunter off to the tree line and then just hung out at the edge of the grass until we went inside.

I’m sure that when the bobcat found our house he did a little happy dance and thought “Yes!  This house has trapped all these chickens and a bunny for me to eat! Heck Yes!”

bobcat stalking

As the bobcat circled the rabbit hutch the chickens were all along their fence noisily clucking away and craning their necks to get a better view of the bunny slaughter.  Personally, if I was a chicken I would have been absolutely quiet and hid inside my house.  Alas, chickens are incredibly dumb and ours exceedingly excel at being terribly stupid.

Let me tell you something about my bunny.  She thinks she’s vicious.  When we introduced her to Frank, I was sure that we’d have to watch Frank carefully.  I was holding onto Frank for dear life, the bunny’s dear life.  What I didn’t anticipate was the bunny reaching out and taking a swipe at the cat.  Dave jokes that the bunny told Frank, “I smell dead bunny on your breath.  I shall avenge my kin!”  Which may be true because the wild rabbits all come and hang out by the hutch.  I imagine long conversations taking place concerning our cat.

Like the chickens, if I was a bunny, I’d run up the ladder and hide in the top, windowless portion of the hut and pretend I didn’t exist while a bobcat stalked my home.  Alas, our bunny has a bravery verging on stupidity.  She decided to put herself right on the fence and taunt the bobcat.  They were nose and nose for awhile.  I really wish we would have gotten a good picture of our small 5 pound bunny taunting a full grown bobcat.

ready to pounce

Imagine here a small bunny shaking his little bunny tail saying, “neener, neener, neener!  You can’t get me I’m in this well built chicken coop!”

I’m sure the bobcat has been casing this joint for awhile.  Him and the bunny have probably been playing this game for quite some time.  What the bunny probably didn’t know was that the bobcat can dig.  A few times we needed to go out and scare the bobcat away from the hutch in order to stop the digging.  Eventually the bobcat decided to settle in and watch the bunny show.

bobcat patience

I called animal control who put me in touch with Fish and Wildlife who informed me that they don’t do anything for bobcats because they aren’t dangerous.

Me:  But he’s not afraid of us and I have small children.

Him:  They are completely safe to humans.

Me:  Not to bunnies though.

Him:  Yeah, probably not to a bunny.

We finally convinced the bobcat to go away.  It involved duct taping Nathaniel to a tree with a steak and hiding Marshall behind a bush with a taser gun.

I kid.

I think he finally was annoyed with our paparazzi-like behavior and the constant shouting at him to stop digging by the rabbit.  I’m really hoping that he went off to kill the most annoying chirping squirrel in the world who lives in my front yard.

bobcat

While he was off, Dave and Marshall went out and retrieved the bunny.  We then went to Petsmart and dropped a small fortune on a indoor bunny cage.

Dave: Tomorrow we should make sure the chickens are safe.

Me:  Whatever, I don’t really care if he gets a chicken, just as long as he takes all the evidence and leaves nothing behind.  He can leave feathers, but I don’t want to deal with any blood.

Dave:  Should we leave him a little note offering up Pooper McPooperson first?

Me:  On second thought, maybe we should bobcat proof the coop. 

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Let me tell you some things about chickens that I didn’t really know before we got them.

Now, so that you don’t think I just willy nilly jumped into this whole “urban farmer” thing, I did do research on owning chickens.  I read a few books, looked at a few internet resources, visited some chickens at a local farm.  Still there were some dots, that I apparently, didn’t connect:

They poo alot.  When I say a lot, what I really mean is an obscene amount.  Like they poo so big you wonder if maybe one of them might actually be a German Shepherd in disguise.

I don’t know why I didn’t know this one:  Chickens are birds.  They poo on the go.  They have no compunction about letting it go anytime, anywhere.   I envisioned our ladies pooing in the grass which would then fertilizing the grass. I thought the whole chicken tractor was ingenious, they pood on the grass, we didn’t have to deal with the poo.  It just worked its magic, I would have an amazing lawn.  I didn’t imagine their home being full of chicken poo, not to mention the grass.   Turns out they mostly poo where they sleep.  They are disgusting like that.

Chickens, really, really, really love their homes.

We decided to adopt a baby bunny while dave was away at camp, because that’s what I do when he’s gone.  I adopt animals.  It’s the whole absence of the voice of reason which compels me to do it.

I decided that the bunny shall live outside, mostly so that Frank the killer cat won’t eat her.  In the winter time I’m sure that she’ll spend a fair amount of time inside, and Frank and her will become best friends and love each other, and you will see thousands of adorable cat/bunny snuggling pictures.  For now, survival.

The coop my dad built said that it was good for 6-9 hens, but my ladies seemed a little bit cramped.  I don’t think they minded it, but I did.  I had a brilliant idea to house the bunny in the chicken coop and house the chickens in the dog run temporarily until Dave came home and we could decide on more suitable living arrangements.

I didn’t actually go out and look at the dog run, but I envisioned it, and in my head it had a concrete floor.  It also already had a dog house in it and we moved a doghouse here, so that’s two dog houses.  Plenty of shelter for my ladies.  I knew it wasn’t ideal for my gals, but I figured that they would be safe from predators because it’s a well constructed chain link space and there were two shelters for them to hang out in if they were cold.

The kids and I went to the feed store and bought a bail of hay to lay over the concrete floor to keep their little feet comfortable.

Feed guy:  Do you want a full bail or a half bail?

Me:  Definitely a full bail.  I have a really big space to cover and I read that it should be about 3 inches thick.

He loaded it into dave’s toyota camry trunk.  He had these awesome bailing hooks that he plopped it into the car and then pushed and shoved until the trunk closed.

Feed guy:  Good luck getting that out!

We drove home and Mike and I pulled and tugged and pushed and finagled the hay out of the trunk.  We loaded it onto the twins Radio Flyer wagon and pulled it to the dog run.

Me:  Huh.  The floor isn’t concrete.  Wow!  That dog house is HUGE!  It probably used to house a bull mastiff or something!  Oh, well let’s do this!

Turns out we had about 3/4 a bail of hay left over.

The ladies were having an amazing time being free range while Mike and I scrubbed and cleaned the chicken coop rabbit hutch.  In a perfect world, I would let them free range all day long.  But they like to hang out near the house, which brings us back to the poo.  The first time they decided to hang out on the porch was the last time they got to hang out unsupervised.  Sometime around 5pm we decided it was time to introduce the ladies to their new home.

Normally if they are out foraging we call them, bring their feeder out and they come running to their home.  Mike filled their feed tray with food and we slowly led them to their new home.

They refused to go inside. 

5:15  Still trying to get the chickens in by tricking them with food.

Mike:  Okay, how about I will slowly back into the dog run with their food and you get behind them and scare them in.

Me:  Okay.

Chickens can fly.  Screaming (by mom).

Mike:  Okay, how about I slowly back into the dog run with their food and you scare them with this blue frisbee.  They hate this blue frisbee.

Me:  Okay

Chickens can fly.  Screaming (by mom).

5:30 

Me:  Maybe we should try a new tactic.  How about catching them?

6:00 Still trying to catch them

6:15

Me:  YES!!!  I GOT ONE!!!

6:20

Me:  YES!!! I GOT ANOTHER ONE!   HURRY MIKE OPEN THE DOOR BUT BLOCK THE CHICKEN INSIDE!!!

7:00  They are all finally in their new home.  They are NOT happy!

Normally around 8, the ladies turn in.  They are tired after a long day of hunting for bugs and preening their feathers.

8:15 We hear the biggest chicken racket we’ve ever heard.  We all run outside fully expecting to find some sort of predator with one of our poor ladies in his mouth.

We find them all huddled by the chicken run door crying.  They all have their little necks stretched out longingly looking at their coop across the yard.   If they could talk they’d say, “We want to go home! Please let us out of this jail.”

We all sat around talking to them soothingly.

9:00 They quieted down so we went out to check on them.  As soon as they saw us they started crying again at the door.

It was incredibly sad.

The next day when I went out to check on them they were all sleeping at the door.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen them all sleeping at the same time in the middle of the day.  They must have had a hard night.

After we got our bunny and put her in her new home, we let the ladies out to roam around to cheer their little hearts.
They all immediately ran to their coop.  They all jumped back aghast when they saw the sweet little bunny. They all had an astonished look on their little chicken faces.

They’d walk away and eat some bugs and come back to see if things had changed.

They’d walk away and roll around in the dirt and come back to see if things had changed.

We left them out all afternoon and evening hoping that they would go into the dog run.  They never did.  They all huddled around their coop pathetically.  Poor things.

We tried the food trick.  It worked until we got near the dog run and then they all ran away.

Fortunately, the catching was much easier this time around but they weren’t much happier.  I’m hoping that they don’t all decide to revolt and escape like in that movie Chicken Run.

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