Terrifying

Fun story:

Last night, I came home from work and locked the chickens up. Usually they’re asleep on their roosts when I do this, but last night they were awake and pacing around their coop. I figured they were just cranky that I turned on the light. This morning when I let them out, I checked their nest boxes just in case (they have to start laying eggs eventually, right?). I got to the middle box and was greeted by this:

Not my picture – I was not in a picture-taking frame of mind. On the bright side, I didn’t scream. I’m proud of me.

It’s an opossum, so the second it saw me it went into “I’m dead but I still have teeth so don’t touch me” mode. It was just frozen there, with its mouth open as wide as it goes and its eyes shut tight. Now what? The chickens were all unscathed – it appears that it was just looking for a warm place to sleep, so there’s that.

So how do you move an opossum that’s playing dead? Should I poke it with a stick? I didn’t want it to move further into the coop, because then it’s harder to get it out. Could I just pick it up? Probably not a good idea. But maybe? But no, not worth losing a finger.

I went back inside to see if maybe it would just leave. Wishful thinking, but that would be the ideal situation, right? When I was out of sight, he just turned around and went back to sleep. Damn.

I went into the garage to look for something to forcibly remove it, and settled on a pitchfork. I went back out there and tried to scoop it up. The pitchfork is just a bit wider than the nesting box, so I couldn’t angle it right to scoop under the animal. I tried using it like a rake to pull the critter out. It clung tighter to the wood and refused to budge. Apparently I wasn’t even worth showing its teeth to anymore, because it was keeping its back to me as it continued to death-sleep.

I went back into the garage and chose a shovel. This possum was about the size of a cat, so it was filling up the nest box pretty good. I did manage to maneuver the shovel under the possum, and I started to lift it out. It was surprisingly heavy. I was slowly walking with a possum on a shovel, wishing someone else was around to experience this absurd moment with me, looking for a place to put it. I wanted it out of my yard, but I couldn’t just chuck it over the fence. It’s terrifying, but I didn’t want to hurt it. I wanted to find it a warm place to sleep, but I didn’t want it to feel at home in my yard. As I was mentally working my way through this moral dilemma, this freaking possum is sitting at the end of my shovel, facing me, mouth open wide, frozen to the spot, but with a look in its eyes that says “I may be dead now, but one wrong move and I’ll eat your face.” In the end, it intentionally fell off the shovel while still playing dead, made sure I wasn’t going to eat it, and slowly waddled away into the forest.

So that was fun.

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