The Whatever Happened To Rocky Raccoon VI? mystery is no longer a mystery.

It was two weeks ago that we realized our efforts to keep a chicken-killer out of the chicken yard had failed because the killer was a raccoon living somewhere in the coop.  Rather than try to hunt down a raccoon in tight quarters, we constructed a new coop in one day and moved the chickens.

I set a trap for the raccoon inside the chicken yard, but he just knocked it over without going inside.  So a couple of days later, I set two arm traps, the kind that snag a paw when the critter reaches in for food.  Nearly two weeks went by with no sign of Rocky.  There were also no signs that he burrowed his way out of what is now the Fort Knox of chicken coops.  I began wondering if we’d been dealing with a ninja raccoon all along.

Nope.  We went out yesterday to begin working on a new chicken yard, and there was Rocky VI, arm snagged in a trap.  He was also quite dead, so I’m guessing he finally went for the bait out of desperation and died soon after being caught.  I would have preferred to catch him in the big trap right away and dispatch him quickly with a shot to the head, but so it goes.  At least we know he won’t be coming back and attempting to break into the new coop.

The new coop is fine, but those chickens need a secure yard where they can run around, so we started that project yesterday.  The plan was to build the yard between the garden and the chicken yard where Rocky lived.

Any project that Chareva plans, you know there will be cattle panels involved.  The only two panels we hadn’t already used were inside the pen where the hogs once lived.  It’s reverted to a jungle, so I had to use the brush attachment on my weed whacker and hack a path to the panels.

As I’ve mentioned before, the previous owner left a lot of stuff behind, including some big ol’ dog pens.  We decided to use the last two sections of a dog pen for the fencing closest to the garden.

You can be sure I was quite careful when working with t-posts and the t-post hammer for this project.  One near-death experience while building chicken yards is quite enough.

Now that we’ve done this a few times, we have a better idea of what we want when building a chicken yard.  High on my list is keeping the net far above my head.

When building the other yards, I sunk poles into buckets of concrete and buried the buckets.  Later, doing that thing wives do where they come up with the easy solution after you’ve nearly killed yourself with effort, Chareva suggested we could just strap the poles to t-posts.

Son of a ….

Anyway, now that putting tall poles around the yard doesn’t involve concrete and lots of work with a shovel, we decided we’d strap one fence on top of another to create plenty of head room.  That way the net won’t have to drop to 48 inches above the ground.

Another lesson we learned from our previous efforts was to dig a trench.  That way we’re not trying to bend a fence over mounds and dips in the ground.

With the poles attached to t-posts and the trench dug, we strapped on two levels of fencing.

Like I said, it just wouldn’t be a Chareva construction project without a cattle-panel arch somewhere.   The door to the chicken yard (also made from a cattle panel) will close against the arch.  We’ll have to surround the fences and the doorway with heavy-duty chicken wire pegged into the ground to keep critters from trying to dig under.

When everything else was in place, we started stringing Paracord from pole to pole.

We still have to do some crisscrossing with more cord, but when we’re done, the 50 ft. x 50 ft. net should fit over the entire yard … although I have a feeling raising the net over the 10-foot poles and draping it over those cords will make for an interesting weekend experience.

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37 Responses to “The Farm Report: Demise Of The Chicken-Killer And A New Chicken Yard”
  1. Matt says:

    Treat it like camo netting and fold it. Unfold it over the framework. Use something with a wide head like a broom to assist. Some scrap cloth over anything that’s likely to catch will help.

  2. There is never just *one* raccoon…

  3. Drew Kime says:

    Attach frisbees to the tops of the poles. Then you can drag the net over and it won’t snag.

  4. Dianne says:

    Maybe your next book should be “Handy Hints for First-Time Farmers.” (Unfortunately, somebody else already wrote the Dummies books for hobby farming, vegetable gardening and raising chickens. But your book could combine all three and I know you’d make it funny as well as informative.) You’ve learned so much from experience and from ideas and information others have passed along.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That’s not a bad idea. In retrospect, I wish I’d shot a lot more video with sound during our years of amateur farming. Might have made an amusing documentary.

  5. chris c says:

    Be sure to bend the underground chicken wire outwards. That REALLY pisses things off when they try to dig underneath.

  6. Bonnie says:

    We finally got skunk #5 last week. The first 4 skunks were more of a nuisance because they only ate the cat food. But #5 killed my pet silkie & my one broody hen – & ate all her eggs. It was the first skunk to dig under the hen house. I was very happy to see this one dead!

    I’m really hoping there aren’t any more! I hope you don’t have anymore raccoon problems, too.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      How did you get rid of the skunk without skunk perfume ending up everywhere? I’ve been lucky; I’ve managed to kill four of them quickly with no spray, but I’ve heard horror stories of skunks getting shot and releasing a cloud.

      • Bonnie says:

        Practice. The first was horrible, but it got better after that. Also, my husband – who does the shooting – finally started doing it almost nude. The trap is airing out in the woods; when the breeze goes the wrong way we can smell it, but it’s not too strong. Or maybe we’re getting used to it. 🙂

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Now I’m picturing a naked man with a rifle.

          Like I said, I may have just gotten lucky, but I’ve managed to kill four of them without the spray — although I check the wind direction before shooting. I put 10 rounds of Aguila Interceptors in the clip (Interceptors are about as hard-htting as a .22LR round gets), draw a bead on the head with my red-dot scope, then empty the clip.

          • Scott says:

            I once asked my professional landscaper neighbor, who also handles skunk removal for his clients, how he did it without getting sprayed. He told me the key is darkness, that they don’t spray if they can’t see. He enclosed his live trap in a box that he could completely seal from out of site with a sliding door. He didn’t kill the skunks, but he would release them in the woods far away, at night.

            I haven’t had to try it myself (yet), and not so sure how well it would work.

          • Bonnie says:

            We went the sans clothing route after both of us getting sprayed by numbers 1 & 3 – it’s very, very difficult to get the smell out of clothes. We have a low-producing well & I managed to run it dry trying to wash the smell out with ammonia. We decided after that that no clothes or burnable ones were best. Except for the shoes – we put them in the sun for about a week.

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Makes sense. If I see a naked man carrying a rifle, I’ll assume he’s on skunk-killing duty.

              • Bonnie says:

                And he will be on duty again – skunk #6 showed up last night, so we’ll be setting the trap tonight. I’m getting really tired of this. I’d almost rather have raccoons – they don’t stink. 🙁

          • Another Mike says:

            Is this by any chance a Ruger 10/22.

            A gun shop employee warned me that the hotter .22 rounds were meant for bolt actions, and that he’s seen them break semi-automatic actions. I’ve never had trouble, but that gave me pause.

  7. Don in Arkansas says:

    Watch the monkey capture scene from the movie Hatari. It might give you an idea on how to get your net over the coop. 🙂 Or not.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Maybe, but I believe our chicken yard is bigger than a monkey.

      • Linda Frank says:

        I agree with Don – the net with rockets was my first thought. Good luck. I’m looking forward to a blow by blow description of the net raising.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Stay tuned. We’ll probably put up the net this weekend, weather permitting.

        • Another Mike says:

          Didn’t you cap poles on a previous project with plastic bottles with the tops cut off. That would keep the net from getting caught, but wouldn’t need hardware to attach like a frisnee. Tie paracord to something heavy and toss over the stretched lines, then attach the net and haul.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      Chickens have co ops now?!

  8. mabelle says:

    I was dreading coming back to check on new posts and chancing upon updates of the raccoon being caught but alas it was and dead 🙁 I am somewhat upset that your traps managed to catch him, and sad that it was a slow death as that was what i wished wouldnt happen if he really have to die

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, I wish he’d wandered into the big trap right away. Even though he killed 15 of our chickens, I didn’t relish the idea of starving him out. But opening the gate and letting him go wasn’t an option. He just would have come back for the surviving chickens.

  9. Kathy in OK says:

    Great pictures! Never stop appreciating that clear blue sky. Last fall we moved from the DFW Texas area to a little over 2 hillside acres in the trees on the outskirts of Tulsa OK . I’m still in awe of the color of the sky up here and we can see STARS!

    Your journey has been an inspiration to DIYers and a source of many LOLs. Keep it up and be sure to tell Chareva and the girls that we know you couldn’t do it without them.

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