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When Predators Attack





Time was running out on our no predator attack.  A farm can’t go forever without one.  Every farm has that dreadful day.  We had the first 3 in November losing our duck Sophia first, then La Pina our first rooster and then our turkey hen Edith three days before Thanksgiving.  When Sophia went missing the first weekend in November, we thought she was sitting on eggs somewhere and we couldn’t find her.  Then a couple weeks later La Pina went missing, and we couldn’t find him anywhere.  By then we suspected Sophia wasn’t sitting on eggs but wasn’t sure what happened to her.  Then Edith flew off next door at dusk never to return.

 

At first, we thought someone was stealing our birds especially because the turkey disappeared just before Thanksgiving.  That was the logical conclusion.  We had never had an animal go missing.  We had never had a predator attack any of our animals.  We had let our guard down and had a false sense of security.  It had been almost two years, and nothing set off alarm bells.  Not until I woke up to a headless chicken inside the coop door.  We had not had anything go missing in almost three months.  We had just gotten a big all steel coop for them so they would be safer than they were in the first one we got them.  It was answered prayers. 

 

That morning, February 13th, when I let the chickens out there, she was.  Velma was laying there. Her head gone.  I started digging her grave and after burying her I was walking around and saw a Guinea stuck in the old coop in the donkey pen.  That’s when I saw Carla in the ditch on the other side of the fence.  Then I noticed as I started to investigate one of the Guineas was missing all her hind end feathers and she was bleeding.  I got her into the bathroom and gave her vitamins, food and water so she could stay inside and heal.  She was too agitated and strong to try and soak her in an Epson salt bath.  There was no treating the wound directly.  

 

On Valentine’s Day I spent the morning banding and identifying all the chickens that were in. the coop.  By lunchtime there were two more missing and the search started for them.  They were never found.  Since the November disappearances my son found feathers and blood from La Pina and Edith.  We never found anything of Sophia.  While walking the perimeter with our new livestock guardian dog Zeus my son found more of La Pina's feathers at the back of our property.  Since that discovery he found feathers from the other two missing hens under the neighbor’s mobile home. 

 

Thankfully we now have Zeus to watch over our flock and property.  I am beginning to sleep better knowing he is on patrol at night.  My heart is breaking, and I am missing my girls.  Losing those we lost during the horrible drought and heat last summer was hard.  To lose these in such a horrific way is devastating.  Watching on our security cameras as the fox tried desperately to get to our girls was shocking.  To watch as Velma stuck her head out of the coop just to have the fox rip it off.  All while I felt a false sense of security. 

 

I have heard so many of these stories of horrific slaughters of entire flocks by predators.  All because an innocent mistake was made.  A coop door left open by mistake, not having an adequate coop made with strong wire like our first one.  My heart broke for these homesteaders and farmers.  They and we learned hard lessons.  Now I must put up additional wire fencing around the coop so they can’t stick their heads out.  They couldn’t with the chicken wire that made their original coop, but chicken wire is no match for a predator.

 

Lesson learned and now to make sure even with Zeus on patrol there is no more opportunities for a repeat.  We buried Carla next to Velma near so many others we have lost.  This is the day I have always feared and dreaded.  I knew that our day would come.  Now it has and we have learned another hard lesson.  Farm life is a beautiful life and yet sad on days and hard on your heart.  It teaches you so much and gives you so much.  The circle of life is ever apparent on the farm.  It’s not getting any easier.  Even when you do everything the right way, the worst can happen. No precaution is too much or goes too far. And unfortunately, you will always need to be outsmarting the wildlife.

 

After this fox attack, I feel violated.  I now have had to go through what so many others have gone through.  Thankfully we only lost four and not our whole flock.  For that we are blessed.  As I grieve the loss of members of our flock, I would not trade this life for anything. 

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