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November 13, 2011

I did not have to kill a possum today.

It’s the little things in life you give thanks for and today, that’s how I’m feeling. The chicken-coop-marauding, garlic-eating, rascally varmint that has awakened Ellen twice in the middle of the night lives on.

I did not have to kill him. I mentioned that, right? Because the lazy Sunday I had in mind today suddenly involved my killing a possum when I woke to Ellen’s email saying she had it trapped in the plastic coop in the chicken run. I should get over soon and be useful if I ever wanted eggs again.

And here’s the back story: A week ago Ellen was awakened at 4:00am by a fracas in the chicken run. Within seconds she was outdoors, in the run, staring down a possum. Smallish as they go, but nonetheless the chicken-eating type so he had to go. With the two tools at hand, a shovel and an iPhone, it turned out in the end she got a blurry picture and he escaped. The Twitterverse knew about our possum (and chefs were offering recipes), but I don’t think that worried him any.

She spent the next day stapling hardware cloth over every imaginable hole she could find in the run where he could get in.

Then, a few days later a Tweet from Ellen read:

 In other news, @GrantKessler, we need more garlic. Yes, every clove. Both beds. I am sure I shoulda offed that possum.

 There was a picture attached that showed the straw covering our garlic bed and it was riddled with holes where some critter had poked in and eaten all our garlic! Now, we have birds nibble our lettuce leaves and slugs chew holes in our kale, but to rob us of our entire spring supply of garlic, that ain’t right! I was starting to think that not having a possum around would be a good thing.

So this morning was Fracas #2 and Ellen had the critter trapped and I was summoned. I hadn’t had breakfast yet. Do you kill a possum on a full stomach or empty? How do you best kill one anyway? Do I really have to do this? Take away our chickens and garlic and really, I have nothing against possums. I like nature and they’re welcome to be part of it as far as I’m concerned. This homesteading thing was starting to get serious.

When I arrived, Ellen had a lovely plan that no longer involved “offing” the poor possum. She figured we’d remove the chickens from the run then open the coop and shoo him out. Let him go. Then reinforce the chicken run all the more. Keep the bugger out. Sounded great to me. Read, pall lifted.

But how will a trapped possum behave exactly when you open the door on him? Will he scratch my eyes out? Will he play dead?

Turns out, possums are clever enough to push the coop door open a little and leave, which this one did probably hours earlier.

The weather was warm and we spent a lovely Sunday in the garden, reinforcing the chicken run yet again with hardware cloth – there were still many holes designed perfectly for a smallish possum. Now it’s Fort Knox. Or so we hope.

We depleted our dried garlic supply, the stuff that’s supposed to be stewing with beans and greens all winter, and replanted the bed with more garlic. This time there’s a layer of hardware cloth over the soil, topped with bricks then straw.

No more chicken and garlic dinners for you, Mr. Possum.  We like to think we’ve won, so kindly pack your bags and stroll on out of our neighborhood please.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 8:38 am

    Wonderful read, Grant. And it is quite amazing how Ellen and you created this oasis in the middle of the city, full of vibrant nature – even if it includes a garlic-snacking, chicken eating possum!

  2. November 14, 2011 11:15 pm

    Yes, wonderful read, and info that I’ve shared with Tom. We have both chickens and garlic, too, and so far I’ve enjoyed watching our resident possum who is often moseying around our garden ’round midnight. I think our chickens are secure inside their hardware cloth/wood home. But garlic munching! That would be a problem. We also have a local skunk, btw; s/he and I met the other evening on the sidewalk that goes to the back of our house. We both stopped in our tracks and did our own 180 degree turns, and that was it, thank goodness. Here’s to urban gardening!

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