Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Fox

As I mentioned in the past, I have a fox problem.
I love my chickens. Not a pet kind of love. I just really like raising chickens. I like raising chickens to lay eggs, and I like raising them so I can put meat in my refrigerator. I like watching them. I find chickens very interesting.
I want to raise my chickens in the best way that I can. I would love to let them roam free and eat bugs and grass and whatever else they find. I have lost so many chickens in the past to a fox and I just can't do it anymore.

So the new pullets are growing, just shy of 18 weeks old and I am feeling guilty for not letting them free range.
Sunday was a comical site.
We have a chicken tractor that we raised our meat birds in. They were slaughtered at 11 weeks and we didn't need to worry about them trying or wanting to lay eggs so we didn't have boxes in the tractor. On Sunday I decided I wanted to let my hens have some fresh grass and sunshine.
By myself, I captured 9 chickens that did not want to be captured. I was very proud of myself that I got them into the trailer with no problems. They were happy too. I could tell.
So then about an hour before we needed to leave to go to a dinner party,  (Dumb day to experiment with the chickens) I asked Dean to help me put them in their coop. I thought it would be as simple as lifting the tractor and grabbing the chickens. It was not. Laying hens are much smarter than meat birds. I ended up having to get into the tractor. It is only 1 1/2 ft. tall. Not easy to climb into and scrunch down and grab angry chickens (ha ha). They flapped their wings and pecked. While flapping any poop that was near them got splattered onto me. Nice. Eventually I did get them all, handed them to Dean who then transported them into their coop. That will not be happening again.
So after a taste of fresh grass and bugs the chickens decided they would fly the coop yesterday. One did get out and the others tried very hard. It was Princess (the last from the old flock) that got out and the 18 wk pullets looked longingly out at her.

So, we are planning to make a new coop or enclosure. I have seen several on the internet. I just cannot decide to have a movable one or a stationary one. We already have a coop. We have had an enclosure, but it is not fox proof and does not have a top on it. Our chickens could get out when they want to, but also they can get out when they are scared or stressed. I want my chickens to be relaxed and happy.
There is this one.
Or this one.
Maybe this one.

I cannot let my chickens out of the run even for a bit. For one thing I would have to be on fox patrol all day. That means never going inside the house. We live in the woods.
Even if I could sit outside for most of the day, there could be the possibility that I would have to go off the property. Like, drive into town for some reason or run to the corner store for milk or some silly reason like that. I would then have to try and gather up chickens that were not ready to be put to bed. The fox waits for me to screw up. Really! She, he, whatever, they wait for the most opportune moment to strike at my flock. This is why I need a really good coop and run. That, or I quit raising chickens. Which is not going to happen.

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