Sunday, July 8, 2018

On the Defensive

On July 4th, one of my beautiful little ducks came up missing. 


It happened to be the "pied" one on the far side of the fortex.  

Gone, without a trace.  

The day before, Biddy, my mama hen, was killed, 
likely by a raccoon.  She had spent only one night in the safety of the pen... in the doghouse there. 
Then she took her two little babies back under the little henhouse, where she had hatched them. 

I was able to rescue both babies, and they are safely in one of the brooder cages.  






I did find her head and neck, so probably a raccoon who went under the 
henhouse to get her. 

So.... 

I have been especially vigilant.  

Before any of you say anything, 
I spent 600.00 having my feral cat food feeder made for the pasture. 

I know that most of the cats are eating there... but... I also knew
that Harley, who was one of the original four kittens... was still 
looking for food at the old hen house. 

I have been leaving a bowl of food out for her. 

It was still drawing raccoons, and I had begun leaving some 
food out during the day time, because I saw her and Spooky several times 
in the day. 

I have been getting increasingly worried about the raccoons, and 
two nights ago, noticed one big male, another adult, and a mama and 
two babies out there, fighting. 

I went out (after scaring them) and took the bowl up. 

Please note that there are no correct dates/times on my cameras, 
I just cannot get them set, it is very frustrating, because I have had 
cameras for a long, long time.  The Bushnell and the Campark have me 
beat, I hate the Bushnell. 

I did buy an older Moultrie yesterday, I'll get it set tonight. 


This was my face this morning when I opened the gate of the 
pen. (and yes, I know my hair looks dorky) 

I had set one of the cameras on the porch of the hen house (side porch) facing the 
gate.  If you look closely... I had gone to the trouble of zip tying a third barrier 
on that gate, and had to cut the zips to get in. 

I was blocking the only gap, where the gate was.  I could have saved myself the trouble. 

The camera on the side porch was down. 
Every night, I put two heavy pavers up against the pophole door of the 
hen house.  One of those heavy pavers was down. 

I was pretty dismayed. 

You see, the night before, the camera showed me a raccoon in the pen, 
along with two cats, one of which I did not recognize. 

What the HECK. 

I had to think back to when Keith was alive... 
we did not have a serious raccoon problem, because Lilly was still 
in good health, and a possum or raccoon dared not show their heads in the yard. 
We had also had Ranger, our wonderful GSD, who had a loud bark. 

We never lost a duck to a predator, 
either in that yard or in the old hen house yard. 

The fence around that pen is six foot high chain length, and we 
attached poultry wire with zip ties to it, which is still in good shape. 
There was originally a shadecloth cover over the pen, which we ordered online.  The former flock here was kept in, because Lilly was a chicken killer.  She still will take a swipe at chicks now, I have to watch her, but for the most part, she ignores them. 


Imagine what I felt like when I saw THIS PICTURE on the camera. (from last night) 

Oh, yes, friends, they are quite the acrobats. 


In fact, here I am in my nightshirt a few minutes later, 
going out to check on the birds before I went to bed. 
I have a spotlight flashlight, and I was checking the nooks and crannies (I thought). 

I will tell you that the ducks had LITTLE sleep last night. 

Somehow, I set the Bushnell camera to video, 
and I had several hours of duck videos before it 
ran out of space.  I never did see who knocked the paver down. 
However, Spooky and Harley were both in there, and 
were both intent on watching for mice at the door. 
If our decent weather holds tomorrow, I am going to 
clean that hen house out and re-bed it, and I expect there 
will be many mice making their ways outside. 

Once the raccoon climbed down the gate, he stayed out of sight. 
All ducks made it through the night. 




Spooky and Harley were in there for several hours, and I 
would venture to say this must be going on regularly, because the 
ducks were ignoring them for the most part. 

(You can see Harley go after a mouse in this video) 

I never did see the raccoon climb back out, OR who knocked the paver down, 
but I figure now it was one of the cats. 
This also explains why I saw Harley by the front door 
of the hen house last night, (this is the hen spa, and it has a front and a side porch).

I did put some food in a small bowl at the OLD hen house for the cats today. 

I confess I am losing sleep over this whole situation. 

I worry about Morning Chicken, too, in the sheep barn. 
If she comes out too early, she may be raccoon prey. 

A friend asked me if there was a barn I could put the 
ducks in at night.  Tomorrow, I'll post a video of what it's like to herd the ducks in at night.  You will laugh. 
I would have to have a dedicated building for them, and I just don't have that. 

They always have done very well in the elements, 
even in winter.  I used to almost kill myself catching my old ducks and putting them in... these... are getting a warm place 
made with straw bales and plywood for the winter, where they can be snug out of the wind, and they will do fine.  I DO have a duck house in the old hen yard, but it is too large to be moved, it was built specifically for the ducks and geese to go into for shelter, and they did use it to lay eggs.  Mostly, they like to be out. 

The next step is to borrow a live trap from the Ag, and start relocating the raccoons.  I will NOT kill them, I admit it. 

For now, I am not putting any feed out where they can get it. 
CAT feed, I can't help it if they go after spilled chicken feed. 
I am also considering getting a yard dog, but it would have to be a pup that can be trained to leave the chickens and ducks alone, because you know.... 
THEY RULE THE WORLD HERE. 


On the bright side, egg production is picking back up!




10 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Well one thing's certain - there's no room for boredom on the acres!!! YAM xx

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  2. Oh, SO glad you didn't lose any more ducks!

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  3. Those are very sneaky raccoons. Sounds like you have a plan - had a plan - changing plans....they are just too smart!

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  4. A couple of years ago we trapped 11 raccoons and 9 possums. Had trapped 5 possums and 2 coons before we quit for the summer. We still have some because I have them on the security cameras and we will start back up in the Fall.

    All were relocated WELL AWAY from our property. Probably not an option for you.
    But, the best one for us. I know there were a lot of coons last year because we had them around the corn feeder. We had some comedian coons on the game cams.

    Maybe if you get a deer feeder and put it out in your pasture or somewhere away from the chickens, you could set it to go off at dusk with cheap chopped corn, they will stay down there instead of up around your house.

    Sorry about the loss of your birds. I know we will worry ourselves sick over our critters.

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  5. I'm hoping you can catch those raccoons. They have done way too much damage and need to find another place to live for sure. Those fresh eggs look wonderful !

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  6. That's so sad about your beautiful duck! And that all of this is so hard to fight, no matter what you try. And that you are losing valuable sleep. The same thing happened to our son's hens at our old house this year, raccoons getting in no matter what they did. They finally re-homed all of them to my grandson's house, where he has a large white husky dog who guards their pen. It just got to be too heartbreaking for them to keep finding the remains.

    But now they are back to buying eggs at the store and what a world of difference that is at breakfast.

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  7. It is a love/hate relationship with those trail cams for sure. I have Moultries, Bushnells, StealthCam, Exodus, but find I like the Brownings the best, for ease of use.

    On another note, I had been feeding a stray cat in my barn and saw on my cams that the raccoons were moving in. Fortunately it was the end of the winter and I finally got that cat to trust me and he moved in with me, end of feeding problem...until this past winter. Another pathetic stray. My heart sank, but I started feeding it anyway. THIS time, however, I put the food on a table with an overhang, one of those jobs that is folding, 2 foot by six. Well, the cams told the story. The raccoons couldn't get up on that table! I've got pix of one with his grubby little paws on the edge, but it had no foothold for it to grab onto and just couldn't get on there! The cat had no difficulty jumping up there. Worked until our snows got too deep for me to get back out to that barn. Just a thought!

    There is a saying that nature abhors a vacuum. I am sure no matter how many raccoons you re-locate, there will be three to fill that ones place! But that still seems your only option. Be sure to dump them far, far away!

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  8. that was a really good shot of the raccoon climbing the gate, i hope you get it under control i know how hard it is to lose your ducks and chickens. deb

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