I opened the hen house door to a troubling sight. There were a lot of feathers and, in the corner of the hen house, a dead hen—Red, one of our “adopted” hens. Her neck had been partially chewed off. In the same corner was a hole gnawed through the flooring. Whatever critter it was that had killed Red, had tried to pull the body through the hole.
The other hens were quiet. It had no doubt been a harrowing night.
What to do? And what kind of varmint was it? The hole was pretty small. Was it a mink, or weasel?
I found a cement block and placed it over the hole, then retrieved my live-animal trap from the barn, baited it with lunch meat, and placed it close to the hole. I said a little prayer. “Please, God, protect my hens.” I felt like I had let my hens down by not safeguarding them. They’re such pets. It hurt to lose one of them.
The next morning—same thing. Another dead hen in the same corner, this time with its head chewed clear off. I found the head in the straw bedding. Gross!
Now I was really upset. Two hens in two days! If this keeps up, they will all be gone in short order. I could see where the varmint may have been able to slide in under the cement block. Dang!
My mind whirled. The varmint had bypassed the live-animal trap and gone straight to the hen house. What to do? Ah, ha! Bait the trap with the dead hen. By golly, it likes chicken, I’ll give it chicken!
That night I went out and checked the hen house three times before going to bed. All hens were safe and accounted for. They were roosting high. That was a good thing. I wasn’t sure if the mink or weasel, whatever it was, could climb or not. What was I going to do if I lost another hen? We were down to 11. Maybe I could sit in the far corner of the hen house at night with a .410 shotgun and flashlight and wait. That would do it. Blow a hole clear through the hen house and scare the chickens half way to thunder! Please, God, protect my hens.
I normally get up real early in the morning to read and write. At 2:00 a.m. when I got up, I put the coffee on, filled Buddy’s bowl, and read the daily devotion. “You make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of Your hands,” Psalm 92:4. I felt it strong, my prayers had been answered.
So, at 2:00 a.m., my footsteps muffled in the fresh snow, I traipsed out to the hen house, club and flashlight in hand. All the way out I repeated, “By your hands, O Lord.” The newly layered snow reminded me of white cake frosting .
The beam of the flashlight picked up the live-animal trap. I could see the dead hen inside and a little dark spot on the chicken. Probably a shadow. But the trap door was tripped. Back to the dark spot. Two little eyes. There it was, looking at me. A mink! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” I had never seen a mink before. Growing up in Iowa, there were none.
But it was a cute little thing, twitching its nose and staring at me, seemingly unafraid, staying warm on the dead chicken. How could something so cute be such a vicious killer? I felt a twinge of compassion for the little guy, or gal.
I went back in the house and woke Ginnie up. I told her I had caught the mink in the live-animal trap. It was over. Our chickens were safe. Hallelujah! Just to be sure, I Googled “mink.” Yep, it was a mink all right.
Mr Mink or Ms Mink got a nice little ride miles south where there is a gravel pit, plenty of timber, and no farm buildings.
Never a dull moment on the Empty Nest Farm!
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.