Down to six

Tragedy struck the chicken coop last night. Or actually, I’m not sure when, because when I found poor Nose’s body this morning – on my way to feed the bees – it was not stiff.

Don’t read this next paragraph if you’re squeamish. I mean it. The one after it is safe.

It was a predator I’m pretty sure, because the neck was cleanly severed, one thigh was entirely cleaned of meat (I should have looked at the bone for tooth mark clues but was too overwhelmed), and her head is missing. I am baffled, though, because there was no sign of a struggle, no blood splashed on any of the wood, and Josh and I should have heard something, I would have thought – the coop’s only about 27 feet from our bedroom window. I searched for a clear flurry of chicken feathers somewhere to show where the deed was done, but there was none. That makes me hope that Nose went in her sleep and was dragged out to the run after she was already dead.

I feel bad because I had noticed a potential weakness over the door in the coop before, but had dismissed it. I’m pretty sure that’s where the predator got in, because the wire was bent a bit oddly and there were five parallel scratches below it on the supporting beam. (I know – five?). I feel a bit sad, but more guilty. And a whole lot pissed off.

Whatever the predator was, it is able to climb chicken wire, small enough to push through a 6″ opening (the max that the wire gap could have stretched, I think), and has five claws on one foot. Skunk? Fox? Weasel? Do we even have weasels around here? I couldn’t find any footprints or bits of fur stuck to anything that would give me a clue (which is surprising, since it would have had to be raked by sharp chicken wire ends to get in the way I think it did). In any case, I took my biggest hammer and I fixed that little gap but good. I’m so sorry, Nose.

I buried Nose under the cherry tree and put our biggest flat stone over the top. Now I’m scared to let the others out to free-range, since this might not be a purely nocturnal predator. Maybe I need to build them a bigger run and just resign myself to having them be only technically, not completely, free-range.

7 Responses to “Down to six”

  1. David in Kansas Says:

    I read a post on another blog whereas the owner of the chicken coup found a raccoon napping inside after he’d feasted. I wonder if the five scratches mean that it was indeed a raccoon. To bad for Nose.

  2. diana Says:

    Raccoon! I didn’t even think of that! GRRR gives me even more of a reason to hate those little bandy-eyed buggers!

  3. Rose Says:

    Or possum. Sorry to hear about your chickens. :( But this has happened many times to my parents’ chickens over the years. Do you have a rooster left?

  4. diana Says:

    Yes I have both of the potential-maybe-roosters left. -laugh- I know that was my first thought too! Ewwwww I hate to think about poor Nose being eaten by a possum. Somehow a raccoon is less gross.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Diana,
    sorry about Nose. Racoons would be my first choice, shrews possibly next. not sure if shrews climb, but some types in the northeast do like small birds.
    I have read that skunks don’t climb, they tunnel . Racoons climb or tunnel.
    and they are ingenious with their hands.
    maybe a double perimeter and dug down into the soil would discourage them.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    also read on the same post that there is a northeastern shrew that likes to suck the larvae out of beehives…

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Diana,
    Sorry about “Nose”
    I also suggest a racoon, or a shrew.
    By the way, there is a shrew on the East Coast that gets into beehives and eats the bee larvae.Watch out.
    Racoons can and do climb, have 5 toes and are very able to figure out man’s building weaknesses. Also, they are not afraid of humans. (Keep an eye out for Sofia in the “patch” (or anywhere) I once had a stand down with a racoon on a wooded path at MPC and that darn coon won!
    Skunks are burrowing creatures, not climbers or jumpers. Not sure about shrews climbing, but they too prefer to burrow after tidbits. Both will eat small birds…

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