"I saw a big raccoon walking up the hill towards the chickens"
"Our chickens?" I asked foolishly.
"Yep. He walked right up there," she said while pointing to a newly put out group of chicks. "[Landlady's] comin' over with some traps to set up tonight, she said that it wont leave now that it knows there's easy food out there."
I pondered the investment of time and heart I've put in the animals on this farm. "He's not getting my birds," I mumbled as I slipped out of town shoes into my rain boots."
I gathered a few more details from the wife. "You sure it wasn't a cat?"
"It had a big fluffy striped tail."
"Hmmm. That would be one weird cat."
As I walked out the back door ]Landlady] and her son pulled up in a white pickup that had the wheel-well pulled off on a logging job.
We fumbled to get the traps out, shake out the stinking leaves that the last skunk had left, and take them up the hill to set between the poultry and the woods. Skunks stink, by the way.
As we tried to keep our balance up the wet slope, I started thinking about how bad we were compacting an area I wantet to revitalize.
But then the son dropped his cage and said, "There he is. Get me a gun."
As a jogged back to the house I thought of his words... "Get me a gun." Nah, I thought, I'm getting my gun. For me.
After loading a single bullet into my Winchester, I walked back up the hill with little hopes he'd still be around. You see, its weird for a racoon to come out in the day like that (though it was dark by now) and then hang around with us obviously doing all sorts of things around his would-be dinner.
"He might be rabid," we thought out loud. "Seems that way to me," said the son, "There he is!"
He reached a hand slightly out for me to hand him the gun. I walked by him, raised it up, aimed - then the raccoon ducked behind the compost pile. I slowly sidestepped until I could see him again and shot that mangy critter on this cold, rainy, dark night.
You see, we've lost almost 50% of the meat birds that were across the street to a very aggressive predator. This might have just been him. It seems likely so since he showed so much interest in our birds, but it was also quite strange the way he was acting and keeping somewhat close to us even during a lot of activity. We gathered the carcass and called the authorities to come and test it for rabbis.
I came back in, feelin very fatherly for the farm and the family - rabid predators on my farm? Not tonight!