To put it mildly, it’s been a difficult summer at the farm. Our flock of breeding chickens disappeared a few at a time, seemingly by unidentified predators.
We considered ourselves fortunate that at least two hens had hatched a combined total of 28 chicks. That good feeling didn’t last long.
The chicks were born in two groups a few weeks apart, so by the time of the second hatching the first chicks hatched were already big enough to be outside. We kept the new chicks in a large dog kennel for protection inside the hen-house with their Mama until she was ready to leave them alone in the kennel. The two Mama hens however remained inside the hen-house most of the time keeping watch over the chicks.
When Nick went in to collect eggs, and tend to chickens he discovered a black snack with an obvious bulge lying on the floor. All the little chicks were safe, so we assumed the snake had managed to get one of the older chicks which were outside.
Over the next few days he found and removed a couple more snakes before they could feast on our birds.
By this time our flock had been reduced by half the adults by predators. We still can’t figure out how they were taken. The chicken run is made of goat fencing, which has been layered with chicken wire. There is also one run inside another, making three runs. The older chicks were kept in the innermost run. All the runs were also covered above with plastic chicken wire to prevent birds from swooping in and chickens from jumping out. No sign of forced entry anywhere.
A few weeks later when I went to collect eggs and tend to the chickens I was shocked to find all the remaining adult chickens dead, and most of the older chicks missing. The little chicks still in the dog kennel were safe, but terrified. Near their cage were the bodies of the two Mamas and the one remaining rooster.
At this time we have one chicken who somehow managed to survive by hiding somewhere. All the other chicks disappeared after becoming large enough to go outside. The lone hen is now living within the branches of a tall bush near the pig shed. She spends her days with the pigs, foraging and even drinking from their water taps.
The pigs escaped a total of three times during these summer months. First they were gone overnight and were back in their pen the next day. The second time, they forced open their gate and were gone for four days before finding their way home. Three weeks ago they broke through the electric fencing and were gone for 2 1/2 weeks! We figured that’s it…. their gone for good now.
We figured wrong as they somehow reappeared a few days ago and are now back in their new heavily fortified pen. With a bit of luck it won’t be long until they are in the freezer.
No garden, no chickens, run-away pigs …. it has been a difficult summer.