Homesteading Perils: Predators

predators

It’s been a rough few weeks. The predators have been out in force. Every time we thought we’d secured a pen, they’d find another way in.

I even moved the chickens to another pen that I thought might be safer, but that’s when the poor rooster met his end. He must’ve put up a heck of a fight. There were feathers everywhere.

There are only two hens left and they are nervous wrecks. They eat very little and won’t lay eggs. I told Greg maybe we should put them in the freezer since it’ll be quite a while until the chicks are old enough to keep them company.

To fight back, we’ve gone commando on the predators and have taken the war to them. Every night, we lock the hens in the chicken coop. The only way to get in is with a drill driver since we bolt it shut with half inch thick plywood.

In the meantime, we set a trap. Nearly every night we catch a possum or raccoon. But there’s an especially smart predator (probably a raccoon) who manages to go into the trap, eat the food and leave. Greg thinks it might be so big the door doesn’t close behind him to trap him–and that’s how he gets out.

We’ve always had a live and let live policy, but the killings have gone too far. They’ve killed nearly all the chickens and all the quail–more on the quail later.

It’s not just us either. The people at our local feed store are hearing the same story from other customers.

I’m beginning to think I’m raising raccoons and not chickens.

I’ve got chicks ready to go outside. We spent the last two days reinforcing the smaller grow-out pen so murderous little hands can’t reach in and grab them.

We had to go with hardware cloth with 1/2 inch mesh openings. Why so small?

That brings me to the quail. After the first slaughter where we lost three birds, we reinforced their pen with wood on the lower half.

All was good for a while. And then…

A giant chicken snake worked his way into the small diameter fence material. (1/2″ x 2″) I swear it must’ve taken him all night to squeeze through that little hole.

Unfortunately for him, once he had a quail inside him, he couldn’t get out. He ate the male quail. Bastard!

It’s too soon to tell, but for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been collecting eggs from the female (before the snake attack). I don’t know if they’re fertile, but I put them in the incubator. I should know in a few weeks if we’ll get babies.

To be honest, I’m ready to give up on quail, but Greg likes them. If we get babies, great, if not I might sell the little bird so she won’t be lonely.

It’s been awful. Every day, we walk out there to see who’s still alive. And yes, I do call out: “Bring out your dead!”

My neighbors are facing the same troubles. We expect to see our fair share of predators, but this year has been bringing them in droves. It makes me wonder if they’ve moved in from elsewhere.

It’s a part of life. I hate having to kill predators because they serve a purpose, but now they’re eating our livestock faster than we can replace them. At least the goats are safe.

On another note, this blog will be on quasi-hiatus for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we’re taking Nana in for knee surgery. We pick her up on Friday.

The last time we did this, I was burning the candle at both ends trying to take care of everything and everyone. The hardest transition will be the first two weeks, but she’ll be in a sling for a solid month.

I’ll post only on Sundays (the menu post) and I’ll do a mini update on what’s going on here.

If all goes well, I should be back full time July 2nd. Please pray that all goes well. That is one little girl I want to keep safe.

You can email or text me, but my time online will be in spurts, so if I miss you it might be the next day before I answer.

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24 Comments

  1. Angela Brown

    Sending good vibes I to the universe for all to go well with Nana’s surgery and healing process. Family first is what I always say. So you take care of that rambunctious girl.

    The picture with the snake had my heart palpatating. Darn it for coming in there and getting your quail

    I wonder if there is another residence being built in the vicinity driving these animals your way, or if this is just the time for these predators to come out and they are xoming out with force?

    • Angela: That is very astute of you! They are building a home just across the street from us. They’re not using up very much land, but maybe the scent of too many humans is driving them farther out.

      It doesn’t explain the rash of chicken murders neighborhood-wise, but it does add to the problem. Good insight!

  2. Geez!! Raccoons are probably my least favorite predator. They seem to be smarter than most and they’re incredibly agile, but you’re just surrounded. At least possum are good critters, yes? Snakes, though… that’s tough to keep out (though, like you said, in is easier than out with a full stomach). And, poor Nana!! Poor you!! Hang in there!

  3. Oh my goodness…I’m so sorry you have been going through this. I’ve had to kill possum that get in and kill the hens. We’ve had fox also, but I won’t kill them. I believe they are protected.

    Best wishes with Nana’s surgery…sending good vibes and hugs!

    • Thanks, Lisa!

      re: foxes
      We won’t kill them either. You can kill any predator if it’s killing your livestock in Texas, but we wouldn’t shoot a fox. It’s not a relentless predator like raccoons. I can protect my animals from them.

  4. Poor Nana! I hope her surgery goes well and her recovery quick! Wow with all the predators! Are you guys having a drought and is that what might be bringing animals to new areas looking for food? We’ve had bear in the outer parts of Phoenix and other cities and the wildlife experts think its because since we are in a drought, the bears are looking for water sources, food, etc. Hoping we get rain with the monsoon season soon to start. Your poor quail. What a terrible end to come to by the snake. I hope the eggs do hatch and there are baby quail once again.

    betty

    • We’ve actually had some good rain now and then. I think Angela was right and there might be some new houses going up. The city people are starting to find our little hideaway.

      re: bears
      Thank God, we don’t have to worry about bears. They scare me more than any other wild creature.

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