Friday, August 8, 2014
Never a dull moment here on the farm. In the last week we have lost two of our meat chickens to a predator. We figured that it had to be coming in from the air, because our electric perimeter did not appear to have been broken. Then the other night B found some very vocal blue-jays haranguing a very large owl. Predator found.
It has been a number of years since we have had a predator problem with our chickens, and it seems that late summer and very early fall is the season for it. When we allow birds to completely free range, they tend to roost high up in our pine trees. When this witching time of year comes, they are used to getting up about 4:30 am or so when it is light and continue to do so, even if it does not really get light now until closer to 5:30 now. This is the ideal time for Mr. or Mrs. Owl to swoop in. Well this morning we went out and found that he had upped his game and taken one of our runner ducks, one of the few we were planning to keep for eggs. Ugh!
We decided to re-locate them into an area where there were no trees within their perimeter that they could roost in, hopefully forcing them to go back into their very nice chicken tractor at night. It was a bit of an ordeal to capture 24 chickens and 11 ducks, move the tractor, and then move the fencing, but we did it this afternoon and are quite happy with the new placement. We can see them from our front porch now and it is fun to watch there antics.
Good thing we could see them because guess what happened last evening? They jumped up on the roof of the chicken tractor, then haphazardly flew to an adjacent pine branch and began their ascent into the tree! We managed to capture all but three, who were far too high, and wouldn't budge even when shaking the branch. Crafty little beasts. It looks like round two today will involve clipping all of their wings...that ought to be fun! Score one for the ducks! They wrangle much better, herding right into the enclosure.