Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Here a Chick, Where a Chick...?

We've been talking about adding on an extra bedroom since we moved to Maggie's Farm. But did we put any of our well-talked-over plans into action? Nope. Reality is, it could be years. Really, years before our three kidsmove out of their shared bedroom. But our chickens.. our chickens don't have to wait that long; they got brand new digs this week.

The project involved a lot of backstraining labor (Dan's), a good, if disgusting, clean-out of the old coop (Dan and I) and a lot of semi-productive exploratory play (The kids.... mostly.. and Dan).

The completion of our new super cooper coop is just in the nick of time. This last month has marked the first clear case of predation... well probable predation... we've encountered on Maggie's Farm.

Truth be told our record's not a bad one. The neighbors on both sides have had their flocks wiped out by "fishercats" (This is the local term for the fisher, one of the larger members of the weasel family), and we sometimes hear "Coydogs" in the lot next door ("Coydog" is a local term for the coyote, one of the wild mambers of the canid clan). We've seen skunk, possum and least weasel and plenty of hawks. (Alas, no "local names" for these critters.) And we've heard tell of brazen Hilltown foxes that strut out into chicken yards in broad daylight. But before now, we'd been relatively blessed.

I always suspected that Maggie kept the varmints away. After all, she spends half the day pacing the perimeter of the pasture and yard, encircling the fowl in a doggy-smelling zone of safety. But our barn-dwelling adolescent chicks have been disappearing at a steady rate, one here, one there, a few more here.

It could be a hawk or a fox. It could be the night-prowling weasel or aformentioned fishercat. Perhaps little tiny hungry aliens are beaming them up.

But-- and here's the rub-- we suspect the culprit may be none other than Maggie herself! Now, Maggie, our beloved border collie and farm namesake, is not the violent type. Nor is she given to fits of canine silliness. Generally, Maggie is dead serious, as OCD as the next working dog and spot-on honest (Yes, dogs can be honest...) But, poor thing, Maggie has a weakness for the herky-jerky flutter of adolescent poultry. Last year, she did in some guineas. Also (Oh, I hate to admit this...) she enjoyed a deadly romp through my nephews' sweet little hand-raised adolescent flock. So yes-- shame!-- Maggie is indeed a suspect.

At any rate, we've taken the typical precautions: kept an eye on Maggie (Notice the chain and guilty look in the photo). We've kept a light on in the barn, an eye on the skies. But the durn chicks keep disappearing. It's quite disheartening. Yesterday, it was Amelia, the beautiful little buff Minorca... without a trace.

So... the new coop. Our greatly diminished flock is now hunkered down inside a super duper new coop. And they even have a smaller and VERY secure little pen to explore.

Whatever is happening to the little guys. It will stop here and now. Okay? Please?

1 comment:

Christy said...

Oh, that is sad to loss your chickens. I hope the super coop takes care of the problem!