Tuesday, July 13, 2010

raccoon attack

We thought we had made a fairly secure Alcatraz holding facility for our chickens so that raccoons and possums couldn't get in. And it managed to hold up really well for almost a year.

We found a farm for Woodia the rooster to live on since he had found his voice and was crowing a lot - even at 7am. So a friend of my riding instructor who rescues wild animals said she'd take him. And to keep our flock at a nice even three, we brought home a young light brama hen on Sunday and named her Sally. She was a beautiful white hen with fluffy white feathers on her feet and a face that looked like a dove. I say she *was* because she only stayed alive at our house for less than twelve hours.

At 3am we were woken up by a sleepy call from our neighbor saying something was in our chicken coop and there was a big racket. We ran outside in our pj's and barefeet (lovely considering that the heat wave had passed and it was now cold and rainy) and found a raccoon in the run with two chickens freaking out and Sally dead on the ground. My husband managed to chase him out while I grabbed the broom (a pretty lame weapon when dealing with a big raccoon but it was the only thing handy). The raccoon managed to get scared out of the coop but was threatening my husband and circling the coop, waiting for his chance to push back in and get Sally. I was so pissed I didn't want him to get to have a feast for dinner so I started banging the broom on the side of the run to scare him. That made him move about a foot so he was over the retaining wall, and I started hitting the retaining wall with the broom and hissing. The loud sound of the "thwacks" on the concrete blocks freaked him out and he backed up each time I did it. Finally he was just about to climb the fence at the back of our yard when the pitbull came tearing out and attacked him. There was a horrible sound - raccoon screaming mixed with pitbull snarls and I was freaked out that my poor dog was going to get mawled. But the raccoon ended up getting away and diving over the fence and somehow the pitbull came out without even the smallest scratch. Phwew!

We've decided to stick with just two chickens for the time being. And I'm glad that the little shit didn't succeed in killing all of them.

In other news, Sunday was a good day for riding despite that I'm feeling out of practice because I haven't been able to go out much to ride in June. Girlfriend was all riled up - possibly because we were in the arena riding with Alas, and I wanted to try taking her out to ride in the pasture so I tried lunging her. I didn't really feel like dealing with it though because it makes me dizzy and I've been having trouble with balance so much the last thing I want to do is be dizzy. So, Megan said she'd lunge her if I'd hold Atlas (the wild mustang) so of course I asked if I could ride him instead of hold him.

I got on him and he immediately just stood there as though there were no way he was going to let me ride him, especially with his mama right there not paying attention to him. I'd give him a good hard kick and he'd take a couple steps and stop again. It took a few minutes before we got our groove together and he started walking. Then Megan yelled to have him trot, so we trotted a little but was really hesitant to actually move and would stop completely if I didn't stay on him. Then Megan said to get him to canter and I thought "he's only got 6 months under saddle after being feral - surely I will die if I try to canter with him". But I did try. I gave him a good kick and a little whack on the butt with the crop (both of which are so weird to me because with my horse I just stop holding her back to canter) and ... he took a couple canter steps, then swerved to the left and did this sideways dance across the arena so that Megan yelped, "Yikes!" and had to pull Girlfriend out of the way. I got him to stop on the other side of the arena and felt really embarrassed, but I also noticed that just as I asked him to canter at the arena door, someone had walked up to the door, so it was probably partially that I didn't have enough leg on him and partially that he spooked by someone walking up to the door.

We stopped for a moment and I asked Megan what she thought I did wrong and she said I needed to keep my legs on him harder to help guide him (with Girl you don't keep your leg on her at all when she canters or she'll break to a gallop). I said I wasn't going to try it again because the first time had gone so badly but Megan really wanted me to, so I did and we actually went around the arena twice and he stayed pretty steady and did listen really well to my leg aids. That felt good. I actually cantered with a green horse and did pretty well. I guess I am getting better in my riding!

After that we switched back our horses and rode them out to the pasture. Girlfriend was a little ancy being out of the arena but a lot calmer than last month when we tried that. There's a lot of jumps and obstacles in the big pasture and Megan was having Atlas walk over a big log so he would get used to going over obstacles and I tried to ride Girl over the log and she balked and absolutely wouldn't go. I'm not sure she's ever had to walk over such a large obstacle and she's never been jumped. I circled her a few times and tried to ride her over the log and she continued to refuse. Then it occurred to me that we were going the opposite direction that Atlas had and sure enough when I circled around the log to go the same direction Atlas had, she would step over it just fine. So we followed Atlas over it back and forth a couple times both directions and then she'd go over it. But she's such a cautious, sensitive girl she didn't want to do it until she saw that Atlas could do it and it was safe.

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