A Raccoon in the Chicken Coop

A novice chicken farmer is terrorized by a nighttime raider: a raccoon.

| July/August 1990

What a garrulous old Coote, I think to myself as we walk up the hill. But I'm the one who's out of breath. Emil Coote has a patriot's white hair, blue eyes and red neck, and at 65, a hardier cardiovascular system than I have. Plus, he won World War II.

"So Ike turns to me and says, 'What do you think, Private Coote?' I told him, 'General Eisenhower, I'm a farmer and I know weather. And June 6 is my birthday. It never rains on my birthday.' Well, there's the chickens. Take your pick. Buck each."

I scan his huge herd of birds as they cluck and jerk around. Occasionally one smashes the ground several times with its face, which doesn't seem to hurt it. I point. "Okay, I'll take four of those brown ones, four whites and, oh heck, four speckled."

A wrinkle on his puckered brow furrows, divides and multiplies. "You know much about chickens, son?"

They lay eggs. Beyond that, I treasure my ignorance. "Not really. This is my wife's field of empowerment."

He uploads this concept with a hum. "Well, you want a rooster?"

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