Monday, June 02, 2008

Red Fox Trouble in Paradise, not to Mention Bears

We've been losing hens over the last few months, and recently started keeping them confined mostly to their fenced yard. In the late afternoon we would let them out for a couple hours to forage on their own, and then put them safely back in their yard.

Well, yesterday, we let the hens out, and not one hour later, we heard a commotion. Emily went to see what was up, but only saw some hens running, nothing bothering them. So, back inside at my desk, about 30 minutes later I see a red fox running toward the back yard! The kids and I shot out of the house like we were on fire! Emily spotted the fox in the woods, but we also found feathers from two different birds scattered in the back yard. No hens were to be seen, which is normal if they're frightened off.

We rounded them up from the front yard under a big tree, and were only missing one, a light brahma. We found her dead in the woods, party covered with leaves. I think the fox was on the way back to retrieve her or to kill some more. Maybe it's a female with kits. I don't know and don't care. That fox is on my you-know-what list. Trust me when I say we're researching how to trap or kill them.

One of the other hens, a barred rock, had lost almost all her tail feathers--those were the other feathers we saw. But she's otherwise healthy.

This tops the black bear incidents from last week. We had a bear getting into our trash, which hadn't happened in several years. It also climbed the chicken fencing, tore through the netting, pulled a feeder down that I'd put outside the coop for the new young pullets, and ate the feed. All in one night. It didn't destroy the feeder at least. Then it tore a hole in another section of netting at the back of the fenced yard and got out.

We fixed a car alarm to the trash cans the next morning, when we saw what had happened. The bear came back again for the trash that night around midnight. Eddie grabbed his shotgun, but all he could see was a white trash bag running toward the woods. :) He fired in that direction but didn't hit the bear. I think it tried twice that night. And again a third night, but since then it's been quiet. Geez, it's never simple out here!

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