We’re In Mourning

Yep. A wily coyote with prey in mouth. I love the coyotes. I just want them to leave my chickens alone!

A wily coyote with prey in mouth. I love the coyotes. I just want them to leave my chickens and cats alone! (AND my chihuahuas.)

Mr. Pants became so adept and cavalier about his outings through the fence that he taught four other chicks his trick. But, not being Zen Buddhists like he is, they were not quite as quick on the draw about how to get back into safety. They just couldn’t seem to remember where that best ingress/egress point was in the fence.

I noticed this going on for a couple of days and was becoming quite perturbed about it and figuring I’d need to get some more chicken wire to shore up the bottom of the fenceline after all. I had hoped the chicks, in their bionic growth spurt, would quickly become too large to fit through the holes and that this would solve the problem. But that didn’t happen right away like I thought it might.

You can probably tell where this story is leading.

Early yesterday morning, just after dawn, Bessie began yelling (in what I now realize was an effort to call me to her aid). After about 15 minutes of this, which is how long it took for the light bulb to finally turn on in my brain, I let Charlie, my heroic Golden Retriever/Chow mix, out, and boy did he take off! By the time I got up to the chicken yard there were still three or four chicks running around outside it like (dare I use this phrase) “chickens with their heads cut off”, and Bessie was wringing her feathers because she had not been successful at getting them back inside to safety. That did take some doing on my part and hers as well, but we finally lured them all back in.

Everybody was up in a heaval, for sure! Bessie immediately herded her babes  inside the hen house and tucked them under cover as best she could. So I couldn’t count them. Sigh. I had a feeling . . .   An hour or so later, when they had all recovered, and whatever the immediate danger had been had passed, they ventured out again, if a little tentatively at first. Sure enough, much to my dismay, there were only nine wee ones instead of ten. I searched everywhere, thinking maybe I’d missed one when herding them inside earlier. But nothing.

We figure a coyote came cruising by at just the right moment, scooped one up, and took off  (hopefully with Charlie on his tail soon thereafter).  Or it could have been one of the large ravens that frequent my barn in the spring — yes, they do eat baby chicks. Ugh. Needless to say it wasn’t Mr. Pants who got, uh, eaten. He’s so darn smart I’m sure he headed for home the instant he realized there was danger!

Bessie was obviously grieving. She is not your regular self-absorbed hen, you know, and she seems to be a very advanced soul, so was well aware of what had transpired and stayed near an outer corner of the yard watching for the missing chick for hours. We felt so badly! Needless to say a quick trip to Lowe’s later and we now have a lot more chicken wire up around the perimeter of the fence, and NObody can get out! We also covered what amounts to an “inner” yard with mesh over the top so that we have at least one safe haven from dive-bombing predatory birds.

I thought this would take care of all our problems but then, about 10:00 a.m. this morning, I happened to walk over to the window that has a view of the chicken yard and watched in horror as a huge black raven ever-so-casually flapped down and landed in the top of the big cedar tree that is smack dab in the middle of the outer chicken yard!

Back to the drawing board — how to create “Chicken Alcatraz.” Martha Stewart was able to do it. Why can’t I?!

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