Urban farming, blood and guts

I've got a relative who is engaged in urban farming. It feels odd, but a combination of factors make it easy for him to engage in small-scale farming.

Part of the venture involves chickens. This is something new, and he is still learning about the chickens and their handling.

Last time I visited, I walked into the chicken area to view a site of frightening carnage. A varmint (likely a raccoon) had discovered the chickens, and harmed many of them while reaching through the chicken wire.

A disturbingly high number were dead from blood loss, and a few more were wounded yet still breathing. Some chickens had been gutted, a trail of intestines and blood was on the floor of the chicken-pen.

The sight was shocking, but not gut-wrenching. (At least, not to me...) I cared enough about the farming project to pitch in with cleanup. I also helped acquire better wire-mesh for the chicken area.

Much later in the day, after acquiring and deploying a live-trap, we found the masked bandit. It was a raccoon, as expected.

We tried dispatching it with a pellet-gun, but the projectiles didn't carry enough momentum to harm the animal.  It was still in the cage of the live-trap, and we wished to dispatch him before nightfall. For several unrelated reasons, I was left with the task.

I decided to carry the cage down to the nearby river. Some cable was used to make lowering the cage into the water easier. A brick, tied to the apparatus, enabled me to be sure the cage would stay under the water. After enough time had passed, I lifted the cage back out. The carcass of the mischievous rodent was dumped back into the river.

I've done a little hunting in my time. This was a little different, but not overly so. That creature had done damage; there was no easy way to send it away and keep it from returning. The kill itself was easy, after a little preparation.

So far, the better wire-mesh has kept the remaining chickens from harm. This little episode reminded me that every form of farming deals with varmints who enjoy some free food. Even varmints that can't eat what they kill, but will keep attacking in an effort to find something it can eat.

Though I think I'm happy that I'm not depending directly on a single urban farm...

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