Thursday, October 16, 2008

They're back

... assuming they ever left. When I walked out to the mailbox today, I saw a pile of white feathers at the end of the driveway. I didn't see any chickens anywhere, so I went back inside. A couple hours later when I was leaving, the eight young chickens were in the front yard without their mama, who is pure white. I've never seen the babies without her since the day they were hatched in July. I am, unfortunately, left with only one conclusion.

I guess this means the llamas are doing their job with the goats and sheep. We have been working on fencing in a large area around our house, the chicken house, and the pond, so that the chickens will have an acre or two to run around where the coyotes can't get to them. It's not done yet, but we know it's already saved a chicken from a coyote. The mama hen and her babies had been locked up in a movable pen until three weeks ago.

When we decided to let them completely free range, we put them in a small part of the hen house that we use for teaching young chickens that this is their new home, the place they can get food and water and where they can roost at night. Usually after a few days, they understand, so when we let them out, they keep coming back. But after we let mama and her chicks out, they did not come back to the hen house to roost most nights. We never could figure out where they were going, but they were usually in the front yard when we did see them during the day.

Somehow in the next couple days, we need to figure out how to get those young chickens back in the hen house before they become coyote supper. Everything around here has been a little harder than usual since Katherine has been down. Her wrist started bothering her when she was at Spanish camp and has been misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed for 10 weeks -- first they said tendonitis, then carpal tunnel. After seven weeks, they finally did an x-ray to find a broken wrist, but after the cast came off and she was in horrid pain, they said it must be a torn tendon, but she has to wait until the 31st for an MRI. In the meantime, she only has one good arm.


Susan Ryan said...

Hope Katherine can get this frustrating and painful problem resolved soon.
We have had a hawk problem with our chicks. We lost one when we had them out of the tractor to free range in our big yard.
Looks like coyotes would go after the bigger meal. The fields are being harvested now, so I suppose the coyotes are looking around for new places to roam too.
We've become very creative until our chicken house is finished The chicks are in the covered dog kennel. (We've seen the hawk sitting on the walnut tree directly above hoping for an easy meal.) The hawks have been thwarted, but coyotes are just as persistent and clever. I'm glad we haven't had other predator problems as I read your coyote adventures.
Beautiful hen....that's too bad.

Deborah said...

And she was so beautiful! After a hen hatches her eggs, she molts and grows a whole new set of feathers. I've been saying for the past couple weeks that I wanted to get a new picture of her because she looked like this big beautiful white puff ball!

Gizmo said...

I'm sorry for your loss. We lost a whole free range flock, one by one.
Your turkeys look beautiful! I cannot wait to start my own flock.
Something interesting a hunter told me - coyotes LOVE turkey eggs. If you've noticed your wild turkey population decrease (usually sharply), you have a severe coyote problem.
Unfortunately, the coyotes won't move to better hunting grounds until they are absolutely forced to.

Deborah said...

Yes, we've lost two setting turkeys, a setting duck, and almost lost a setting goose two years in a row. Usually, at least with the goose, the coyotes get the eggs the first night, but they leave a couple. They come back the next night and try to get the mama. We even lost a turkey that was setting right outside our bedroom window a couple years ago. After he got the eggs, we were sleeping with no screen on the window and the rifle right there. He woke us up a couple nights later, but Mike wasn't able to hit him because it was too dark.

The weird thing about wild turkeys is that we never saw them the first couple years we lived here, but we've been seeing a flock at least once a year for the past three years. Rabbits are the prey animal that has decreased dramatically. We used to have tons of wild rabbits; now there are hardly any at all.


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