We love our chickens here at the farm. They provide hours of entertainment. Each has their own personality and that varies from 'Leave me alone!' to 'Hey, how are you? Why don't you pick me up and scratch me under my wing?'.
Our chickens stay in their chicken yard until mid-day and then we let them out so they can free range in the great out-of-doors... they walk, run, climb hills and scratch at the dirt and dig up bugs. Their yard is big, but they do love to roam about the property.
That was, until yesterday afternoon.
I was at a vet appointment and I got a text from our neighbor: "911- a coyote got one of your chickens". When I got home, I immediately went to check our girls. I called them (yes - they come when called) and I counted. 13 hens. At the beginning of this year we had 17 but had lost three to what I thought was either coyotes or hawks. Of those three losses, one was because a bird refused to come into the coop at night. I don't need to tell you that a helpless chicken out in the wild at night is - well.... a sitting duck, so to speak.
Anyhoo, back to the story. We had 14 hens as of yesterday morning and 13 when I got home. Yup, sure enough, one was gone. And it was Candy. You remember Candy - she's the one that lays the goofy, misshapen eggs.
And as I went back into the house to change into my chicken coop shoes, I heard a chicken ruckus. As I ran outside, I saw the backside of a coyote with a beautiful tail, and a hen in his mouth. Dammit. I counted again. Twelve. 12 hens.
I got all the chickens into their yard and shut them in. They happily pecked away at the scratch I had thrown around their yard. Yet I knew they weren't quite safe. Our chicken yard fence had large gaps oat the bottom of the T-posts that comprised the structure on which the fencing rests. So I stayed outside last night until dusk,when the chickens return to the coop and I could lock them in safely for the evening.
This morning, bright and early, The Lovey went to the hardware store and got clips to attach to the fencing and the wood frame to secure the fence much more. The chickens are now safe (fingers crossed) but will have to stay inside their enclosed area from now on. The coyotes know they are here. I don't want them to continue to return for dinner.