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.
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!