Monday, October 22, 2012

Trapping, My Latest Skill of Necessity

I LOVE Wyoming but if you aren't fond of traveling like I'm not fond of traveling, the wide open spaces have a large draw back. You have to travel to get anything. I needed fabric and foo foos for Halloween costumes so off our daughter and I went between the hours of school time. That was Monday. Tuesday off I went to get supplies for the window wells hubby is building. 

Wednesday storytime and ballet with the three year old while the six month old was in arms and early school release at 1:00 followed by library afterschool specials with the older grand kids, younger ones in tow. Thankfully that was in our small community.

Then Thursday was a whirlwind to get anything done before Friday. It began at 4:30 a.m. as we hurried to do chores and travel five hours to pick up Gracie, our sole remaining yak. Then home again to do chores and set traps before picking up the four grand kids to spend the night.
Oh did I fail to mention that I'm now adding trapping to my resume? Not by choice but necessity which has been the mother of most all our acquired skills. Just like window well building has become my hubbies newest skill since we priced ready made metal ones. We'll talk about how later. 

It was necessity that sent me to borrow live traps once more from the town Animal Control Officer, in other words the dog catcher. The same kind of live trap that I caught the skunk under the shed at the house.

Warm winter, nice spring and the population has exploded. Now after a summer drought, their are too many for the available feed supply. In they move to terrorize my poor chickens, sucking eggs, and possibly killing one hen. Possibly because this is what we found in one of my traps Saturday morning, a raccoon. Now I didn't scout out no raccoon trails. Nope, I had been going to the corrals just after dark to watch for skunks to see what direction they came from and try and figure out where they denned up.  I concluded they were in a small culvert since the grass was pressed down at the entrance and that proved to be true. 

Since coons love chicken dinner, I'm not so sure the missing hen wasn't its doing. I trapped this one over in our neighbors pen by their now empty chicken coop. The coop that once was full of chickens which all became varmit dinner.

As I asked permission to set traps in neighboring club member's pens, I discovered that chickens were going missing elsewhere too. Others may tolerate annihilation of their girls but you mess with my girls and you mess with me.
No more of MY girls is going to make anyone but us people a chicken dinner and nothing sucks MY eggs for free without asking as the two skunks who were caught in the act can attest if only they were alive to do so.

Though the skunks to my knowledge are not longer trespassing in the chicken coop, I'm left with a bad case of  PTSD  hens. Think I'm kidding? What would you call 1 to 4, at the most, eggs a day from 8 hens if not a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Can't blame them, bullets flying over head and nightly invasions by threatening marauders. I might have it too if I weren't at the other end of the gun.

You might think just secure your pen tighter, well you have to do that too but our neighbors thought they had, a year old coop with buried wire underneath but still, they lost all their chickens. If something is hungry enough, they are going to find a way in. It is why population control in the animal kingdom is so... important. We do it or mother nature does. That is what the EHD that killed Jasmine was doing. I say was because cold weather has killed the flies.

 Mother Nature sent EHD to lower the deer population since we have a bad drought and no food. And wow,  has it wiped out a huge population of white-tails in particular along with some mule deer and antelope. She sends starvation, rabies and other nasty diseases to control skunks, racoons, and rabbits when needed. But for all you softies who say let Mother Nature take care of things, I want you to weigh the difference between a quick death by bullet or Jasmines death which did end by bullet but not before her organs turned to mush and she hemoraged out every orfice.

 I say population control by bullet is far kinder than disease and starvation so forgive me but since I've seen many forms of Mother Nature's population control, I favor the bullet and I favor trapping to control over population.

So for two nights, I timed my entry into the corrals to just after dark to attempt to discover if indeed skunks were lurking in the small culvert under the road. FWI, Skunks hole up together in the late fall for warmth and sure enough on the second night I saw two skunks tottering down our lane. This was after we had already gotten rid of two that got into the chicken coop.
As I told you the last time, skunks LOVE cat food and so it makes a great bait. What I didn't know is how unnearving it is carrying the crate with them inside. Luckily, the two trips we've made, no perfume has been donated.
More unnerving yet than carrying the cages is putting my hands in the front to slide the metal rings upward and opening the trap door.  So far nothing has tried to bite or scratch.  Not true if you accidently catch a kitty cat in a trap.  Five skunks and a racoon so far has left me wondering if we've got them all. I hope so. We go this morning once more to check, then on the road again. I've got to go help the folks at a business meeting.  
Oh yeah, got to have the educational part. I called a friend whos son's job is trapping for the goverment and he said fish oil and marshmellows is the best bait for racoons. Also, just keep setting the traps in the same spot you caught a varmit the last time for their friends will just keep coming until they are all gone. Then move on to another area and try there if need be.
Yes indeed, a woman of many talents, master of none, that's me.

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