Monday, May 23, 2011

Farm 1 Predators 5

Here we are again losing the battle.  Chicken War II is on and we may have lost a few battles but we haven't lost the war!  Annmarie called to tell me that we had caught a possum in our live trap.  She sent it to predator heaven and then both womenfolk took it up to the bone yard to dispose of the carcass.  Sarah has dumping the carcass out of the trap without actually touching the animal down to an art form.  She tips the trap up on end and shakes the recently expired critter out onto the bone strewed hillside.  I was happy as I only knew about the one adult hen being eaten.

Annmarie called me this morning and informed me that the predators were snacking on my baby chickens.  I truly blame Mother Nature for this problem. I cannot put gutters on the chicken coop due to the heavy snowfall sliding off in the Winter and ripping them off (besides who puts gutters on a chicken coop?).  So a lack of gutters causes small channels to be formed in the ground from the water cascading off the roof.  We have had an inordinate amount of rain this year causing this rut to deepen dramatically.  So much so that the rock I had jammed under the board last year was just sitting there doing no good.  The death deserving predator(s) were crawling under the board and eating my baby chicks.  The outside chick run had feathers all over the place!  They killed four of my babies.  I started with 18, lost one to disease and now four more to predators and am down to 13.  As always, my favorite chicken was ruthlessly slaughtered by the enemy.  She was a little tame brown leghorn.

So Sarah and I refortified the fortified chicken enclosure.  It is now surrounded totally by wire on all four sides and over the roof.  We added wire to the building side, attached it to the wall and bent out 8 inches at ground level then piled rocks on top of those 8 inches.  We then plugged the crawl through hole with a stake through the wire and more heavy rocks.  My hope and wish is that all casualties from our side will stop.
Annmarie also dropped another bomb this morning.  We lost another newborn lamb.  It drowned in the creek.  Near as we can guess it was trying to stay next to momma and she used the narrow foot bridge across the creek and the lamb fell in.  This learning to farm is rough on everyone.  Both Annmarie and I were saddened by this useless death.  In some ways it seems silly since in nine months he (newborn was a boy) would have been someones meal.  But it is hard to discount the easy and meaningful life he would have had until that time.    We had been talking about  locking the sheep up every night in the barn but had not been doing it.

So with one miscarriage, one newborn drowning and five more sheep ready to give birth we are now locking the sheep up at night in the barn.  This whole talk of sheep brought up another point.  Someone asked me today how many sheep we own.  I could not answer this question with any certainty.  So today I counted them while they were out in the pasture and got 17.  The child did a birth record slash count on her fingers and came up with 16.  So tonight when she locked them up she counted them...16.