Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Unpleasant Surprise

with 2 comments

In all the years we have been keeping horses on our property, I’ve never had to deal with the situation I found yesterday morning under the overhang. There was no sign of anything out of order when I opened the door from inside the barn. While the horses calmly waited, I started on the north end with my usual housekeeping tasks.

Coming around to the south end, I moved past Swings and got startled by the sight of a furry animal curled up as if napping against the wall beneath a hay bag. It was difficult to see the head but the tail was a dead giveaway for a raccoon. I could clearly see the movement of breaths but no other evidence of its condition.

The thought crossed my mind that a startled horse could have kicked out at an intruder and led to one knocked-out raccoon. The varmint was also laying next to a mineral block meant for the horses. I wondered if the bandit had simply gorged until overfilled and conked out right there. That was a lot less likely.

I decided to just let it “sleep” while I carried on with my business. At one point, I saw that Swings went over and sniffed at it with what looked to be empathy, so it wasn’t like the horses didn’t realize it was there.

After setting out the feed pans for the horses, I dashed back to the house for preparations to euthanize the critter. When I returned, I moved the horses to the other side and closed the gates so I could take care of things with them out of the way.

There was nothing in my life instruction manual about dealing with this kind of thing. It wasn’t what I signed on for when I agreed to feed and clean up after the horses. But you do what you gotta do.

The poor critter was unceremoniously picked up by the tail and dropped into an empty feed bag that I put into another empty feed bag for disposal in the trash. Not knowing if other health concerns contributed to the sorry state I found it in initially, I chose to keep the remains out of reach of any scavengers.

I did decide to dispose of that mineral block, as well. The horses had never really shown much interest in it and if it was starting to attract other animals, it was doing more harm than good.

Every day is an adventure. I’m grateful the horses took it all in stride and my hassle of having to deal with the unpleasant surprise was hardly a blip in the morning routine.

It would be just fine with me if we could have another ten years or more without needing to repeat this routine again.



Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2023 at 7:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Didn’t you say you saw it breathing? Couldn’t you have just moved it to another location. He probably wouldn’t return once you got rid of the Mineral Block.


    March 2, 2023 at 11:34 pm

    • Our concern locally is about the chance the abnormal behavior is symptomatic of disease that we don’t want to risk spreading to our animals or other wildlife. That is the reason for euthanizing and disposing of the carcass so no scavengers will have access.


      March 3, 2023 at 11:49 am

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