Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spenardo Showdown

It's been chaos with the chickens. Got eight new concentration coop refugees yesterday, one of which is a rooster. I normally don't take roosters but the guy had already brought him here and I didn't have the heart to say no. I knew if I said no the rooster would just be killed and thrown in the incinerator. I'm hoping to find him a new home because I absolutely cannot keep him.

Sad factory rooster

They're all sequestered right now in a coop addition I've
been working on behind my house. It started as a temporary pen to house some refugees last summer and evolved into this third world-looking affair. It's still a work in progress though I don't think it'll be any more impressive when it's completed.

Note the hen on the bottom left. She's laying an egg. Every spring, when they start laying eggs again after the winter, some of the hens will insist on finding their own hiding spots for eggs, no matter how many nice cozy nests I have built for them. Eggs turn up in tufts of grass, cardboard boxes, under the stairs, any random nook or cranny. This is where the Easter egg hunt comes from.

The two roosters who already live at my house are no
t happy about the new guy. Pasha wants to get at him because he lives to kick the ass of any rooster that gets in his way. Bart wants to get at him because he dreams of doing the ass kicking for a change.

The pecking order of the hens had already been in flux sinc
e the recent death of two porch chickens one of which was Murray, the long-time reigning queen of the porch chickens. This comes right on the heels of the demise of Cheepacabra, queen of Frankencoop. Spenardo del Sur has no chicken queens!

One of Bart's hens recently defected over to Pasha's
coop. I didn't want to fight about it so I let her. Tonight, another of Bart's ladies decided she didn't want to sleep under the back stairs anymore either. Instead, she wanted to sleep alone on the porch behind some buckets in the corner.

Normally I wouldn't allow such a thing.
The porch is undefended territory where any critter could just mosey up the steps. But I shrugged and figured it's been a long time since anything other than a cat or chicken has been on the porch. What harm could come of it? It's like a kid asking if he can pitch a tent in the yard and sleep outside for a night. I didn't want to fight about it so I let her.

About an hour after dark, I hear her making a fuss
on the porch. I flip on the light to see her waddling down the stairs. I look in the corner and find a big fat possum sniffing about. I run out the door and scoop her up, taking her around to the back stairs. I explain to her that she's just going to have to sleep with Bart tonight and I'll arrange different accommodations tomorrow if she so desires.

I dart inside through the back door and
make a beeline for the front door, picking up the already loaded .22 on the way. By the time I get back onto the porch, the fat possum is squeezing through a gap that leads to Pasha and his ladies.

Porch chickens aren't nearly as secure at night as Frankencoop chickens. Frankencoop is a fortress compared to my front porch and back stairs which are only kinda sorta secure. But in three years of porch chickens, this is the first time a possum has attempted this maneuver (although the cats do it all the time).

Even though its big fat possum ass is pointed straight at me, I don't really have a good shot at it. We're in pretty close quarters and I hav
e a lot of crap on the porch right now. Instead, I run down the stairs and hope to prevent the possum from making it through the gap.

Too late!

I didn't feel like I could get a good shot without risking hitting something else. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a cat right behind that corner post (you can see her a little better in the next photos). I used that two-by-four on the bottom right a couple times to help "guide" the possum. Rather than let me guide it outside the chicken wire where it could scurry into the dark night, the possum insisted on taking the more perilous route up the porch's south face.

When it finally made it to the top, I took the two-by-four and tried to nudge it off the railing and back onto the porch. When it wouldn't budge, I gave it a good thwack. Possums have one hell of a grip.

I realized that, if I was standing on the other side, I couldn't ask for a better shot at it. I ran back to the top of the stairs and took aim. For a moment, it felt like I was playing one of those carnival arcade games. I imagined the possum with a bulls-eye on its side and, if I hit it, I'd win some dopey prize
like giant sunglasses or a comb.

What I actually got was a bleeding possum that almost took ou
t a tray of tomato seedlings when it fell from the rail.

It huddled in that spot between the buckets with its back to me for several minutes. I could see it was still breathing. After a while, it slowly emerged, bleeding from the mouth. I hadn't shot it in the head. I'd gone for a body shot, hopi
ng to keep the skull intact for Angela.

It left a trail of blood across the porch as it made its way for the st
airs. I figured I'd finish it off when it got on the ground and I could get a clear shot. I didn't feel comfortable shooting at something so close to my feet. Plus, I didn't want to be forever explaining the bullet hole in the stairs.

While the possum traversed the porch, I peered
between the buckets where it had huddled, bleeding, with it's back to me. I wanted to see how much blood had been lost. To my surprise, blood was not all she lost.

Yep, the possum was a she.

It had been a body shot alright. A two-for-one shot. You can see the bullet wound on the baby's right side. It must've been not-so-safely nestled in mama possum's marsupial pouch. If this had been the carnival arcade, I might have won an invisible dog or transistor radio.

But this wasn't the carnival and now I felt like a fucking monster. I looked back to the wounded mama possum. She turned to look at me one last time before lumbering down the stairs, bleeding on each step. My mind searched for a fitting song to play over this dramatic scene: The condemned descending the stairs into the dark night, bleeding,
leaving behind a dead child, a gun pointed at her back. I couldn't think of a song but it would probably be something by Nick Cave or Johnny Cash.

When we were both finally on level ground, I positioned myself for the second shot. The damned cats kept getting in my way and she was moving closer and closer to the shadows beyond the reach of my porch light. I quickly pulled the trigger before it was too late. She bolted and I was able to squeeze off one more round before she melted into the darkness just a few feet away. I might've chanced a third shot if she hadn't been running in the direction of the propane tank.

The grass is high and my flashlight is weak. I have no desire to try and track her through the yard in the dark moonless night. I hope she dies quick. She no doubt had other babies. They will die too. I also hope its quick. I will look for her in the morning. Maybe Angela will get a new skull after all.