The Verminators

Posted in: Farm Collie

coon3After our oldest son moved to Arizona a few months ago we found ourselves with way too many eggs from our 15 chickens. Despite our efforts to sell or give away eggs there were just too many, I thought about eating the chickens but I hate to eat a good laying hen if I don’t have to. So 3 weeks ago I sold 4 hens to a friend of ours and just a coupled of days after that our chicken troubles really started.

I walked out to the coop to let the chickens free one morning and found feathers everywhere and a couple of chickens missing. Well I reenforced the door which appeared to have been pried open, (it’s an old chicken house and the door is pretty rickety) but the next morning I found more of the same. This went on for several days, with me thinking I could keep the bandits out and the bandits helping themselves to my chickens.

By the time my chicken population was down to 5 I started wising up, “why not leave the dog in the pasture where the chicken coop is located during the night” I said to myself, why I hadn’t thought of this sooner I have no idea. I had been keeping the dogs in the house at night during the winter and as the nights warmed up I had just continued to spoil them.

Shasta (1.5 years old ES/OTFS, Ford’s Buddy x Ford’s Ginger) was in heat around this time, so between her going off to be bred and my fear that the neighbor dogs would breed her, she was unavailable for chicken coop patrol duty. So Rainier (7 month old RC, Gracehaven’s Angus x Peruvian Lassie) was left to handle this job alone.

One night shortly after I started leaving him in the pasture at night we heard him barking shortly before bedtime. I could tell by his tone he was very excited so I figured there was a good possibility that he had found our culprit. As I opened the pasture gate Shasta ran out and they were both going nuts out there in the dark. When I got there with a flashlight I could see that they had “treed” a opossum on top of the chicken run, I knocked it off with a stick and they killed it in no time.

I rested easy that night thinking that our chickens were safe. In the following days as Shasta’s heat began to ease off and the nights were warmer I left the dogs outside at night and left the gate out to the pasture with the chicken house open so the dogs could patrol that area for any future intruders.

Then came last Friday night. Just before bedtime I heard the dogs barking out by the chicken house again, by the time I got out there they had killed another opossum. Then around 4 in the morning they were going nuts again so I got up and went out to find them running around the chicken house barking. Something had been in there, the chickens were all upset and running around and the door had been pried open but I couldn’t find anything. I even let the dogs into the chicken house but they couldn’t locate it either. So I assumed that whoever it was had slipped away. I went back to bed. I hadn’t been back for 20 minutes before the dogs started up again in earnest, so I got dressed again and went out. I shined my flashlight into the chicken house and couldn’t see anything. The dogs were both standing in the same spot jumping up and down and barking, it seemed clear to me that they could see whatever it was. So I walked to just the spot they were at and shined my light where they were looking and there it was. A raccoon was hanging from the chicken wire on the top of the chicken run. I went and got a long pole and knocked him down and the fight was on. They had killed a mess of opossums in the past so I assumed that this would be no different. It was very different, raccoons can fight, and they don’t die as easily either. The raccoon was slowly making his way towards the fence and I didn’t want him to get away so I got my pole and bashed him a few times in the head. After this he went limp and I figured the fight was over, even if he wasn’t dead he would be before long the way the dogs were going at him. I went back to bed again.

Just before dawn the dogs were barking again, I thought to myself “another varmint, they already killed 2 tonight”. When I got out there however I found that the coon had awakened from his whack on the head and was fighting with the dogs again. Just then my neighbor came along to see what all the barking was about and he ran the coon over with his truck to finish him off. My poor dogs were pretty scratched up from that fight, but they were heros in my book.

Now I have to brag a little bit. Shasta was a valuable part of the team, but Rainier was definitely the MVP in the raccoon fight. Shasta would quickly bite him and back off, while Rainier were grab him firmly and shake him. No matter how nasty that coon got Rainier stayed right in the thick of it. He is a real fighter and at only 7 months old he will no doubt get better. There is a great story about his dad Angus fighting a wolf to save a cat, and I can definitely say that Rainier has some of the same qualities as his old man. Rainier also has the majority of the scratches from the fight as you can see if you look at the pictures I took right afterward. When my neighbor drove up and saw them fighting the raccoon, the first thing he said is “that’s a good dog” pointing at Rainier.

A couple of other things about Rainier unrelated to the raccoon incident. He is a very sweet dog, very biddable and eager to please. When I am doing chores around the place he is my shadow, while Shasta is into patrolling and spends her time checking on things Rainier is content to stay right by my side at all times.


One Response to The Verminators

  1. Cathy says:

    They look very proud of their ‘trophies’!! Atta girl!! Good Boy! Cat

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