Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chicken Trauma

Today is a sad day for us. More of our chickens have been taken.
I can not even begin to tell you how sad, frustrated, and angry this makes me...I don't know what to do anymore. It makes me so sad that we have not been able to protect these guys. The whole point to this is to have happy chickens who are given a happy life and collect happy eggs, and eventually when they come to the end of their lives, we have happy dumplings, gumbo, or stew.

On a chicken swap page we jokingly talk about chicken math. Many people talk about how they started and suddenly they go from 5 chickens to 100 chickens within a couple of weeks. ..well our chicken math is more of a subtraction thing instead of an addition thing...well it is an adding and subtracting thing for us. I keep adding chickens and life seems to keep subtracting them for us.
It seems that we have had to start over almost completely every year because of predators that surround our area. Mostly we have had trouble with dogs, from the neighborhood, as well as strays just passing through. This year we have also added raccoons and a fox to the list.

Today three more chickens have been taken...and now we are down to two young pullets, three laying hens and a rooster.
We started out this year with 23, lost some to some mysterious death, put some extra roosters in the freezer, bought new chicks to add to the flock and brought it back up to 21, lost 12 of those, got an incubator and hatched 11, 1 died, sold 3 and lost 6 of the 7 that were left, added 2(still have these), hatched 11 more, one died. These are currently in the house and I really don't want to send them out in the world.

 We have been at this raising chickens thing for almost 4 years now and it seems like every fall we are whittled down to a handful of chickens and have to start completely over in the spring. Our goal is to use our chickens in a sustainable way, having young hens for eggs, eating the extra roosters and the older hens, and hatching out new chicks for future seasons. So far we have managed to have 6 roosters for ourselves, and enjoyed, shared, and sold lots of yummy eggs, but sadly for the most part all our hard work and effort has gone to the predators surrounding our property.

Most of the pictures were some of the really nice chickens and the great ducks that we have had and lost. Some days I just want to quit, not worry about continuing to purchase or hatch more chicks only to feed them to whatever is lurking around the yard and ready to strike.
Some of our options is to get a guard dog of our own, but the issue is we don't have a fence and don't want to have a dog that will roam the neighborhood. The other option we have I just don't like because it means that our chickens will be contained. Part of the joy of having them is that they are allowed access to the yard to graze and clear our property of weeds and bugs and also supply us with lovely rich eggs full of nutrients because they are free range.
This will also mean building a larger, stronger enclosure that is also predator proof...can we say chicken prison. Really, chicken prison is not an option to me; I guess this means back to the drawing board. I'm starting to feel a bit like Wiley Coyote trying to outwit that the Roadrunner.

I'm not sure what the solution will be...there will be a solution.

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