Well, I pushed my luck way too far. I had finished chores and come in, and it was just getting dark. Keith came home from a trip to Salina, and we talked for a bit, and then I settled on the couch and watched "The Middle". "Suburgatory" came on after that, and I lollygagged some more. Keith went to bed, he had had to get up at 4:30 to get ready to go this morning, so I finally got up to go lock up the little henhouse, which I had not done when I finished chores because six or seven birds were out. When I got out there, I saw in the dark four or five birds perched on top of the rabbit hutch that the porcelains are still living in.
Note where the hutch is compared to the "porch" of the henhouse, and the pophole door in the front.
On top of the hutch were five birds, Brutus, my big boy Rocky, whom you see in the above picture, and three hens. In the back of my mind I remembered a night at the first Calamity Acres, and said out loud "Oh S***", turned around, and ran for the powerful flashlight. As I came back into the yard, I saw a varmint slink. I ran for the back of the henhouse, because once, long ago when we first came here, we locked up hens who had escaped with a possum in the henhouse. No possum, but two dead blue silkies. I shone the light around quickly, and did not see any more dead ones. I turned around, and heard a noise, and found three little girls in the corner of the yard. Making a round clear around, I went back to the front. The five on the hutch got picked up one by one, and put in. They fought rather than be put inside, so I shone the light so they could see the other birds.
Then I heard yet another noise. I shone the light into the doghouse that sits in that henyard, and there were Ratchett the rooster, one of the Welsummers, and a little Brahma hen. I got down on hands and knees and caught them one by one. I suspect the rooster was hurt... he screamed and screamed and screamed. Finally I went through the doorway into the big henyard, and looked high and low. I saw a pile of white feathers, and looked around, thinking one of the white silkies was gone.... but I found her, the lone chick that survived in the spring, stuck in the opening where I let the birds in and out of the big henyard. She had been the next prey. I got her loose from the wires, and brought her back into the little henhouse, shining the light for a moment so she could see her buddies.
Then I went and got a cat carrier I keep handy, and put the three porcelains in it, and took them into the nursing cage for the night.
I left the two dead birds in the chair that I use to sit in out there. One was headless, one just .... dead. I suspect the headless one was Bluey, the rooster. My favorite silkie, Bitty, the black headed one, was alive, she was one that I picked up out of the corner.
Then, I got this one.
Here she is mousing earlier tonight.
I took her into the henyard, and told her to get the oppossum. She knew exactly what to do... she found the last one, if you remember. She immediately went from side to side, checked the duckhouse, behind the little hutch the juveniles were in.... she went up the ramp and checked the locked pophole at the back of the big henhouse. Then I called her into the little henyard. She paused for a moment at the chair with the dead birds, and then went up and down all four fencelines, into the dog house, etc. etc. She smelled it, I could tell. She kept looking. Finally she approached the dead birds again, and I told her to leave them AND SHE DID. For a dog as forcefully willed as Lil, this is a major, major accomplishment. She came to me, and we went out into the yard.
When Keith came home tonight, I asked him again if I should bring Butch into the feed room tonight, as it is actually getting down to freezing. He told me Butch would be fine in his pen in the pasture with Reddy and Eagle. However.... the tarps that were on their pen have ripped to shreds in the winds of the last few weeks, and we have not replaced them. I had noticed Butch was not on his perch in the pen when I went out.... so I thought "Uh oh" again, and went into the pasture to check. They were all three in the back of the dog house.... Butch must have gotten awfully cold last night. I came in and stirred Keith and asked if I should get them and put them in the feed room, and he said he guessed the possum was done for the night when it saw me. I am leaving them out there, but it will be hard to sleep, as they are three of my favorites, too. I have a lot of favorites.
So, as Keith said... we don't come in until everyone is up and locked in. That's that. Stupidity on my part.
From what was left of the bigger of the two birds, it was Bluey. The other was a little blue hen. I saw a lot of blood on one side of the house.
I'm hoping there are no more in the light of dawn.
Keith says he will sit out there tomorrow night and watch for the marauder to come again, but I can tell you the porcelains will be sleeping in the nursing cage for some time to come. I had planned to integrate them with the larger flock when we moved everyone to the new henhouse anyway.
Here are April and May, tonight, before all the chaos.
I had a bag of treats, of course.
I was so glad to see them asleep in the hutch, but the nest side of it does not lock, so I took them in just to be safe.
Here is the rest of the little henhouse gang when I came with the treats:
I'm hoping I don't find too many more dead in the morning. It's very sobering.
Tomorrow night we were to go to a dinner, but I am afraid to leave now, unless we catch everyone first and lock them up (with the net). I know it's stupid to be so worried about chickens, but I have raised almost all these from tiny chicks, and have a lot of time and yes, money sunk in them... and I like them a LOT. I know possums have to eat too, but NOT MY CHICKENS.