Elihu and I went out tonight, and although my mother dutifully helped us by closing the mature chickens in their coop and securing the chicks as best she could, when we got home we found three of our most precocious young chicks dead inside the new enclosure. (I say ‘precocious’ because they were the only ones in the flock smart enough to go in after dark, something all mature chickens do naturally, plus they’d been making mock nests inside the coop for a week by now, another display of advancing sexual maturity.) My coop enclosure was sound, however the critter that got in was able to open the wire gate (!) in the outside run and enter the coop through the small chicken door. And we hadn’t even considered that to be a viable entrance for predators. We’d thought our run was secure. HA! Well, as Elihu noted, that while we two were out eating chicken for supper (tandoori, that is) apparently some crafty creature was enjoying a delicious chicken dinner as well.
I was surprised at how sad I felt at first. Although I’d told Elihu not to look, and that I’d take care of it, he was adamant about seeing what had happened. We picked up the dead chicks very matter-of-factly, noting how warm one was, and from that guessing that she’d only just been done in (two of three were eaten, she was left behind – perhaps we interrupted the intruder?). We walked down the driveway a bit with the remainders of the dead birds and then unceremoniously tossed them into the woods. Not much one can do but to accept it, but it’s still kinda sad. But then again, we just ate a friggin chicken who had a crappy life and died a frightening and painful death. Is that really any better a fate than that of our chicks? (I think not.)
In the end, we’ve learned that we must ramp up our security and our vigilance. While it makes going out at night a little more challenging, I’m determined to figure something out. I’m getting kinda tired of living at the mercy of my chickens. The next major homestead purchase may well be an automatic coop door opener/closer. !