Friday, August 05, 2005

'Possum Paintball and The Disappearance of Gandalf


If you see a blue 'possum, his butt is mine and I am not happy. I have this wonderful mixed flock of Banty chickens that I free range during the day, and board at night in the safety of the chicken tractor. (Check Archives, much earlier post, May 31) Each evening , the banties hop into the big muscadine grape vine near the bird feeder to roost. After dark, it's a simple thing to go gather them up and toss them in the tractor. If you keep chickens, you know they become completely immobile in the dark.

One evening last week, I was sitting here blogging away when I heard the chickens screeching and clucking outside my window. Yikes! It was 10:00pm and I had forgotten to put the banties up.

I dashed outside to find most of the banties scattered, on the porch, on the peak of the roof, all over the place. I shined the flashlight around and sure enough, there was a 'possum in the grape vines creeping for the 2 chickens still clinging to the vine. Seeing me, the 'possum crept a little higher up in the vines. I went back in the house and told my wife that a 'possum had scattered the chickens and I needed a better flashlight.

"Are you going to shoot it?" she asked. Now this is a woman who got tears in her eyes when we found a stranded bull shark on the beach one night. The shark was too big to move and was slowly suffocating as fish do when stranded by a retreating tide. I only mention the shark sympathy to point out that she is a softie when it comes to animals.(I have a picture of her and that shark somewhere...I'll get on it) When it comes to protecting the banties, she is more hawkish.

Anyway, I said, " No, I think he only scared the chickens, I just need to harass him a little so he won't come back. He's just being a 'possum"

"He'll just come back and kill our banties"

"Well, I am going to try some behavior modification first"

"Okay" (Shakes head and goes back to reading)

My son was away at a buddy's house, but I knew where he kept his paintball gun so I grabbed it, the flashlight, and went back to the 'possum vines.

The 'possum was still there and had crept closer to the two chickens who were still clinging to the vine, blissfully unaware of impending doom.

I aimed the flashlight and the paintball gun (PETA types may want to stop here). Phhht first paintball strikes the 'possum's branch and sprays him with blue paint...which he proceeds to calmly lick off his fur, the leaves, and the vine. Phhht, Phhhht, Phhhht three more paintballs strike the branches and the 'possum is really licking now. I remember reading that paintball paint is based on vegetable oil...I missed the part about it being a delicacy to 'possums. Finally a couple of paintballs struck the offending marsupial and this he DID NOT like! He scampered down the vines and went as fast as 'possums can go back into the woods.

There you go, no harm done. It'll be awhile before he wants to come over here again. I was feeling pretty smug. That's when I noticed the white feathers at the base of the grape vines. I did a chicken head count.
Gandalf, our beautiful snow white silly rooster was missing. He's still missing and I know where he went.

If you see a blue 'possum ...he's mine. Posted by Picasa

13 comments:

pablo said...

I would have hit him with a really tall ladder!

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
The RTL approach crossed my mind, but it's too heavy to throw.

swamp4me said...

Sorry to hear about Gandalf :(

Rurality said...

Oh dear. Right there with you on the chicken-loss sorrow.

We have forgotten to close the coop door at night a few times, but have been lucky that nothing got them then. They just get them during the day!

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Sorry to hear that a possum got your beautiful white rooster. I'm intrigued by your chicken tractor and will definitely check the archives for an explanation.

Hick said...

There are so many animals out there that prey on the poor chickens. You would think that God would have made them smarter when He made them so tasty.

Sorry to hear about your beautiful rooster.

roger said...

i once had to shoot (to kill) a skunk which had taken up residence in my chickenhouse. i would have tried the paintball thing if i had had the weapon. probably smelly either way tho. at least we only lost potential chickens.

Floridacracker said...

Swamp,
He had this cocky air about him that I loved and this crazy...and probably fatal habit of running in tight circles when frightened. Oh well...

Rurality,
I remember your chicken loss posts and I thought you would be able to relate to this.

RD,
"Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee and Pat Foreman. It's a neat concept and mine is very simple, but it works. Thanks for the chicken sympathy.

Hick,
You had me laughing out loud with your comment on chicken IQ vs. chicken tastiness. Thanks.

DPR,
It would be easier to control these poultry predators if they weren't cute and bright-eyed. Raccoons, 'possums, and skunks...outside of the coop, they are pretty endearing.

sanity gal? said...

Thought your tale was a funny but sad one, sorry bout the rooster, but the rest of the story made me think about my parents war with the little beady eyed buggers. Keep up the good fight.

Juli said...

So do you think the pesky possum said, "yup, paint tastes just like chicken"? Fur-lickin' good, apparently.

Sorry for your loss but impressed by the paintball hunt.

Floridacracker said...

Girl,
Good one! Maybe everything does taste like chicken.Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

This is ur child, but which one is it? Anyway If I were Gandalf I would have told that possum that "He shall Not Pass" I think that wouldve stopped that possum

stocktoad said...

You must have brave possums down there. Ours in Wisconsin go into a coma with one sniff from a mini dachshund.