Thursday, December 23, 2010

Opossum in the Chicken House!

Last night when I went into the chicken house after dark to close their outside door and gather eggs, I found an opossum in the nest box, having devoured one egg and ready for the next. I hollered and told it to leave. It just looked at me with those tiny eyes and sat still. I waved my arm and yelled. It just sat there.

The chicken house and garden shed are all one, so I went out and found a bamboo plant stake, came back, and poked the beast to make it go. With lightning reflexes, it grabbed my stick and chomped it in two. Angry now, I hollered "Get out of the nest box! Those are my eggs!"

The opossum was not impressed. I went back to the garden area and picked up a short-handled trenching shovel. I thought I could just lift the back end of the creature with the shovel and walk it out of the nest box. Our nest boxes are all in a row with a long, common lid which I was holding up with one hand, so the beast had plenty of opportunity to go out either end or over the top. But it wasn't going anywhere.

I put the shovel behind the possum and tried to scoot it out. It turned and bit the shovel. I poked it a good one. It bit the shovel with a loud crunch. Miserable creature. It had found an egg bonanza and had no intention of leaving. I went back to the garden shed for a wider, short-handled shovel and attempted to boost the miserable creature out with that. It turned and bit the shovel hard. CRACK. Opossums must have steel teeth.

Frustrated, I called Johnny on my cell phone. He had arrived home an hour earlier. "There's a possum in the nest box and I can't make it leave!" Johnny came out, took the shovel from me and tried to scoot the possum. It bit the shovel. "This is what we're going to have to do," Johnny said calmly. "We have to shovel it into a garbage can and take it up into the mountains tomorrow."

"Can't we just shoo it out of the chicken house?"

"It will come back."

"I'll close the door earlier."

"It will come back during the day."

Johnny retrieved a garbage can... after removing the bag of chicken food within, leaned the can against the nest box, and shoveled the belligerent opossum, which by now had smashed another egg. The opossum was not interested in being shoveled into a garbage can but Johnny finally succeeded while I stood holding up the nest box lid and staying far away from those needle-sharp teeth.

In the uproar, the can with possum tipped over and possum scurried out. But Johnny, with excellent timing, shoved the can in front of the beast and scooped it back up. I was still standing away from the action, holding the nest box lid up unnecessarily.

This morning, I went out to feed the chickens and let them out, telling Johnny I was ready any time to go with him up in the mountains with the canned possum. Somehow, during the few yards from our house to chicken house, I forgot and lifted the lid of the can that normally holds a bag of chicken food. A very disgruntled, but fat and glossy, opossum looked up at me from the bottom of the can and snarled.

A bit later, Johnny bungee-corded the lid on the can and we hauled it in the van up the road several miles. Johnny took the lid off and tipped the can over while I waited with camera ready, figuring Johnny would have to shake the can to get the creature to move. But it must have been tired of its confinement in an egg-free zone and scurried out. All I managed to get was a blurry shot of a fast retreating, very well-fed opossum.

I had noticed that the pan of milk I left out for the chickens was completely empty, so the possum ate well the night before.

1 comment:

  1. Oh those evil possums! One got in our henhouse one night during a board game party. It was a special entertainment for guests to all run out there with brooms and bats to drive the possum out of the henhouse.