I came face to face with Inky’s killer today. I saw the rounded brown form lope into the brush as I came by the greenhouse to check on the pigs. I thought it was a raccoon because it was slow and lazy getting out of sight.
To be sure, I snuck up for a closer look. It moved. I moved. It wasn’t in much of a hurry. I found it, camouflaged in the underbrush. A bobcat. Sitting front feet together like a cultured cat, head forward, round face a little sad looking, like wild cats’ faces look. It boldly stared back at me, less than 20′ away. We stared.
Losing PP was not the tragedy you might think. It was a decision made for me. He was good, but he wasn’t a five star rooster, and he saw Silkie hens as hens, and tried to mate them. That is a terrible trait I don’t like to see in full sized roosters. It’s awful to see that big blimp trying to climb on a little bitty fur hen. A good big rooster sees the Silkie hens differently, not as sexual prey.
Usually the little hens are too fast, a Silkie rooster comes streaking in to set things to right, or they are segregated, so it’s an occasional problem, but it’s not a problem that should exist. On the other hand, Cheeks and Puffcheeks were in love with PP, so culling him was not a decision I was looking forward to making. The bobcat made it for me.
I’m so glad to be able to have all my birds in the greenhouse, and to have got them in early this year. If I’m doing the best I can to protect them, and there’s still losses, then I have to accept that and be glad I can protect as many as I can. I’m not over Inky though.
Zero loss is an unrealistic notion – risk is the other side of the coin from the reward of free range freedom, but I’m not going to do what Harvey Ussery calls “feeding the foxes”. They can’t be free range all the time – that’s not realistic either for the place we live. I’d have to replace my flock every year after they were polished off by predators that came for the buffet. It takes a lot of work to raise up a little chicken to adulthood (ask their moms), work you don’t see when you can just buy them at the store. So I make an effort to keep them adequately entertained and comfortable inside all winter. It isn’t that hard. Their physical needs are easy; keeping them entertained is a little harder.