Tag Archives: predator

When all the snow melts and you’re the wrong colour

I feel conspicuous.

Low profile, low profile
I’ll just make a run for it

The weasel has on his snow white suit and is caught out in the melt. The house chicken was the first to spot him through the window.   Laser focused.  High alert!

He’s very prominent, dashing around, but is as perky and bouncy as ever. It’s hard to keep a weasel down. He was bounding between piles of sticks, under the house, into the woodshed.

Weasels are super cute, until they have the blood of your chickens dripping from their fangs. I haven’t had any chicken deaths due to weasel for four years, because all the chickens get secured in their coops at night. We are co-existing with this known weasel, and possibly another (or maybe the same one) by the greenhouse for almost a year now, and I am grateful for his rodent-reducing services.

Got ’em!

Caught the guineas under the netting tent, finally.  Went like clockwork.  When I came out to serve supper a few were even perching on the clothes rack.

I said I was going to build them a perching rack like a fish drying rack, and HW said “Why don’t you just stick the clothes rack out there?”  Why not.

I subtly herded the rest into the fence, which surrounds a scrubby patch all the birds like to hang out in, and closed them in with the last section of fence.  I closed in more than the guineas, though.  Three Silkies were in the fence too.

I had to hang out until they started looking for the exit, and lift up the fence for them to duck under.  They slipped right out like it was prearranged.The guineas at first weren’t too fussed about being captive, but got increasingly noisy and agitated, yelling for half an hour and doing perimeter laps.

The netting isn’t visible, but it’s draped down to the ground on most of the edge, and tented up between the GH peak and a tall post, so I feel good about their safety now.  I figure once they have a good night on the clothes rack, they’ll be back tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, inside the GH:

Progress?No.  Backsliding.  Empty coop.  All birds trying to pile in on the broody.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.  The guineas escaped.  They got over the snow fence and under the netting, and did so so close to dark that they’re roosting now in a really bad, exposed place on the edge of the field, because they don’t have time to get to somewhere better.  They get dumb and fumbly in the dark.  I was holding the flashlight so they could fly up into the branches, and it was still a catastrophe.  They hate me.  I’m mad at them.

Some days.  You try your best to take care of the things, and they’re smart enough to outsmart you, but not smart enough to accept your help.

worry

Loungey pigs.  They’ve been rooting well, but sort of avoiding the big rooty area in the middle that I need them to work, asap.  She’s digging herself a hole so deep she’s almost below grade now.I closed the small coop a touch too early.  There was a latecomer.

Excuse me!

I dropped the ramp again and du du du – trotted right up!

That’s better!

The guineas are killing me (poor choice of words).  They are getting picked off and I can’t help them.  The downside of being wild and independent.  There was an owl picked one off the GH;  I knew lining up on the GH was a bad idea, but I thought if they slept on the coop, right by the wall of the GH, they’d be ok.  Nope.  And since, they’ve been moving around in the forest, because they don’t return to any roost proven not safe.  They were roosting in a big apple tree, which I thought was a great choice, nice safe spot, and it was for a few days.  But last night there was another event, and I didn’t get a chance to count them today.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to make a safe spot.  I sewed together two widths of bird netting to make a strip wide enough, and draped a big canopy off the end of the GH.  I set it up with electric fence at the base, they went in, I closed it up, and found that guineas slip handily right through the electric fence.  Then I was after deer fence, and the co-op said they had some, until we went to buy it and they didn’t.  Then I finally get some (very attractive orange) snow fence tonight, get it all set up, feel good about it, and the guineas choose to skip dinner.

T-minus one week to move the GH and get all the birds in for good. 

Epic pig move

We moved the pigs a fair distance, from where they were recovering the field from the alder and buckthorn, to beside the greenhouse.  They must till up the ground where I’m about to move the greenhouse to.  It involved setting up the fence a couple of times in long corridors.  The pigs were cooperative.Now they’re back in the sun, and practically  on lawn, which they are making short work of.  It’s kind of strange to have them (back) in the middle of everything, smack between the chicken tribes.

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Something has been snatching guineas.  A couple of adults are missing, and now there’s only one chick:(But gosh, it’s cute. A pile of bumps in the food dish: The guineas are not exactly “mine”; they’re very much their own, unlike the other obedient farm animals.  They don’t mind eating the food, but they are cunning and very hard to trick or contain, even for their protection.  They’ve been sleeping in the trees, and I’m racking my brain for how I can get them into someplace safe.  I don’t even know what’s getting them.  Nor do I have “someplace safe” in mind.  I’ll get them all into the greenhouse for the winter, but it’s another week+ before that’s ready.  What to do?

I love the outrageous purple of scarlet runner beans.  It’s like the fake colouring of grape candy.  And they are preposterously large beans, too – the plant, the pods, and the beans.  Jack and the beanstalk beans.

Guy Hawks Day

Remember, remember the 5th of November.

My most excellent fine rooster was killed this morning, presumably by a hawk.

I presume a hawk because I witnessed, in the woods just a few meters from our door, a big hawk attempt to grab a chicken.  The undergrowth was dense, the hawk fumbled her and the hen got away.   She sprinted into the woods screaming and the hawk flew up into a low branch where it stared coolly at me until I started shouting at it.

Oddly, I didn’t hear the rooster.  The silence was strange, and all the hens had hidden themselves.  A bit later, I still couldn’t find any hens, until I was collecting eggs and was shocked to find seven hens huddled in the coop, middle of the morning.

At the end of the day when I came home, the hens were still completely weirded out, extremely subdued (most just hunkered on the ground) and not eating.  To anthropomorphize, I would say they were distraught.  Only the leghorns were behaving normally, scratching and pecking.  They had only known him a few days.

I knew then the rooster was gone, and in a clearing a fair distance away I eventually found a tiny bit of him – a clean breastbone with the bones of one wing attached.  There were barely even enough feathers to identify – he was almost completely consumed.   He was a big bird, he was a feast for someone.

It’s sad to lose him, he was an excellent rooster.  He was at least five years old, and didn’t have any plume feathers left in his tail, but he was still very handsome and what really matters: he cared for the hens surpassingy well. He was definitely appreciated his whole time with us.

He did his job right to the bitter end, saving all of the hens.

 

Tragedy/Hope

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Today the dog chewed his leash and killed the small black Silkie hen.  I was away working and H.W. left him unattended for barely a moment.

Of course I felt horrible.  We introduced a predator to the farm and then failed to protect our tiny, vulnerable charges.  They have a house secure enough for wild animals, and they’re attacked by a domestic one.  Naturally the dog got “tuned” for his crime, but it’s his nature to hunt, our responsibility to train him otherwise.  And a little fluffy innocent life is gone because of a mistake.
I’ve ordered a poultry net to put around the Silkies; it can’t arrive fast enough.

Same day, the red hen went broody, and I broke her up by accident!  I thought she might be hurt, crouched unusually on the floor of the coop, and I stroked her.  She jumped up with a peep revealing three hot eggs she’d been on, and when I checked later she was on the roost, not on her eggs.