A dramatic title for a dramatic situation.
I wrote the other day that we had lost 10 young chickens to a coyote attack. That was a bummer, but unfortunatly it didn’t end there. We have a serious problem right now and it seems to be getting progressively worse.
After “taking care of” one coyote we thought maybe we were in the clear. Then a few mornings ago I spotted another one crossing right through the yard. Luckily there were not any chickens out at the time and it seemed as though he was out of luck, but we knew he would be back.
Coyotes suck, I have no other eloquent way to say this. They just do. We have dealt with packs of them before, striking in the middle of the day, coming again and again until they have killed several chickens. We have even had some get gutsy enough to come right up to the house when we are home. They can be viscous, unrelenting, scarey.
This isn’t new to us, but it doesn’t get any easier. We almost become consumed with it. We wake up early before dawn, sit in upstairs windows at god-awful hours. Our poor dog doesn’t get any sleep, he knows he is on guard too. But we have to protect what we have left, if all of the chickens are whipped out it will be back to square one and goodbye to a lot of hard earned dollars.
So the war had already started for us when we started seeing these predators in our yard, but two nights ago things got ugly.
We had 3 beautiful young white breasted turkeys that we were raising for Thanksgiving dinner. You can see them in the last post being hugged by our daughter. They were quite pleasant animals and we were really enjoying them. When the dog started barking my husband sprang up from bed, weapon in hand, expecting to find another lurking coyote. But instead he found something MUCH worse. A fox in the turkey pen. The fox had already take one turkey away and was in the process on deheading the other two. That’s right…three dead turkeys, two headless bodies. It was bloody and horrible. I am not a squemish person, but it made my heart sink. So much work, such a waste (what create only eats the head?), such a crappy way to die.
So why is this creature
worse than this one
You might think coyotes must be scarier being they are three times the size of a fox. The answer is simple..a fox is smart and it can CLIMB! It has no problem clearing a 6 foot high fence. Our chickens might be in trouble because this fox knows we have food and plenty of it. The real concern is the ducks. We are actually hoping to re-home them by tomorrow to give them a chance at life. The ducks do not have a locking coop and are an easy target. The problem is that though coyotes and foxes (remember now we have both) usually hunt at night, they can also hunt during the day. This is something we have experienced first hand. So unless we shoot the fox, or keep the chickens locked up, we may lose them all. A fox has been known to take down a flock of over 50 chickens in a single night. It is weird because we have been here 7 years and have never seen a fox or had one attack our chickens. We are praying this is a rare instance.
So we have thought long and hard about a solution. I really want to get more chickens, but cannot take a gamble like that with our situation. So I think we have decided to use chicken tractors. If you are not familiar with them, it is a mobile chicken coop with an attached run. You move it around the yard so the chickens have fresh pasture and your lawn gets fertilized.
Here is a picture of a really nice one
Photo Credit: http://www.summerinajar.com/archives/133
So another cost, but what’s the alternative? The downside is they cannot free range like we wish they could. The plus side, they live.
So here we are, hoping to finish the tractors on time, before all is lost. Sitting in windows at war with the backyard predators that we know are in the woods waiting. It’s a little eerie. The saddest news of all is that one of our cats is missing. It seems like she is also a victim, but I have not exactly given up hope yet. Perhaps she was sacred and is hiding. But I am mad for sure!