On my drive home from Michigan today (smooth, easy border crossings, book on cd, reasonably speedy, Thai take-out), I got a message on my phone from one of my housemates. Poor woman, whenever I go away it seems that some of my chickens meet messy ends and they have to deal with it. It seems that a marauding raccoon killed Clara and Edna yesterday, feathers all over the place and general carnage. We think it's a raccoon because one was sighted in the yard this afternoon.
I called my farmer friend Thor to get some advice re: raccoons and chickens: when active, how to prevent more attrition, uselessness of roosters, opposable thumbs, application of big flashlight and shotgun, etc.
As we were talking, I suddenly remembered an odd little snapshot from my past. I have spent a lot of time working on a farm in Florida (ECHO), learning about international agricultural development and pulling some weeds, but mostly being artistically useful...illustrations of rooftop gardening techniques and such. I lived on-site with the interns, many of whom are still my best friends. One weekend afternoon I was hanging out at the picnic table by the guys' house, enjoying a book and a snack and a peaceful moment in the shady sunshine...then Charlie appears. (Charlie was an amazing man, in his 70's at the time, a self-described Georgia cracker with loads of big-time overseas experience in Africa and other exciting places. He was also a total hoot.) He slaps a gigantic dead raccoon and a big knife down on the table and announces that THIS is what's for dinner. I was outta there faster than you can say fricassee.
Not sure why I feel compelled to tell that story on my blog, but I'm fascinated by how our minds take photos like this and file them away...in this case under "raccoon." The remaining four chickens are barricaded tightly in the coop tonight, and we'll see what happens.