Homesteading Isn’t All Fun & Games
If you’ve been following along on my homesteading and self sufficiency journey, you already know that I kill chickens, ducks, and turkeys for our table. It isn’t a pretty sight and I don’t enjoy doing it. However, I feel much better about eating the poultry I raise and butcher humanely than I do about buying meat from the grocery store.
Part of homesteading involves protecting my flock from predators. We don’t have bear, bobcats, and wolves to contend with but raccoon, possum, and hawks can be devastating to a flock. I found out the hard way that a possum can wipe out an entire flock in one evening. Fortunately I was able to stop the carnage before all of my birds were dead, but I lost 26 chickens in September of 2012 and since then I’ve had very little sympathy for the plight of the hungry possum.
Egg Eating Can Lead to Chicken Eating
When I opened the coop on a 30 degree day last week to let in the fresh air, little did I know an unwelcome guest would drop by. After I closed the door in the afternoon I found a possum eating the eggs. Egg eating is destructive enough, but this critter would have soon decided that some fresh chicken is even tastier. Once they have found an easy meal you’re not going to get rid of them. Setting a live trap and releasing miles away will only cause problems for folks living there. It could also be a sentence to death by starvation for the creature. I didn’t have time to go in the house for the pellet gun. So I grabbed a shovel.
Sometimes You Just Have to Do the Dirty Work
You can call me cruel and berate me for choosing to bludgeon a possum to death for the misdemeanor of eating eggs. I understand and at one time I might have agreed. I did what I had to do to protect my flock from a known predator. If possum were on the endangered species list, I would have found another way.
I killed him as quickly as I could and stood a few minutes, trying to get my shaking hands under control. Thoughts poured through my head. Am I up to this life that I’ve chosen? Should I get rid of the chickens and become a vegetarian? Why did that stupid possum have to make me do this?!
I think that I have proven to myself, over and over, that I am up to this homesteading life. And no, I don’t want to get rid of my chickens. But I think I need a better system in place for keeping the predators out of the chicken coop. Because I don’t want to be faced with killing another possum anytime soon.
Have you ever had to kill a predator on your homestead?
Note: Before you kill a predator, check to see what your local laws allow. Don’t kill endangered species!