Monday, June 25, 2012

& then there were 18

Yesterday, during a MONSOON, we relocated our remaining 18 chickens to W*****'s henhouse next door.  For those who have not had the misfortune to speak to me directly in the past week, we have gone from 27 to 18 hens; something small & vicious has been getting into the henhouse. 

First, I thought the count seemed "light", but as the ladies had not been out (our henhouse is plenty large enough for them to never leave it & be quite healthy, I swear) I figured someone was behind something or I missed someone...  Then I realized I could only find one Lakenvelder; there should have been two.  I thought maybe one of them had not come back in from the previous day's outing & I had somehow miscounted, counting one twice.  Then I couldn't find Teensie the one&only Sumatran & I knew there was a problem.

I went through that henhouse as best I could.  Any opening I found larger than my fist (& I have rather small hands) I stitched up, or rather darned, using a lighter gauge wire.   Friday morning, there were 2 dead birds still in the henhouse.  That afternoon, A came home from being in CA most of the week.  He dug around the exterior, found an opening behind & below the feeders at the back where the wooden wall had rotted away.  The next morning, there was no doubt something had tried to dig in at that point.  Whatever it was, it had managed to get in somewhere else: two more dead hens.

Saturday we took everything out & examined the four exterior walls from the inside.  We added a layer of chicken wire over the existing layer of wire on the two side walls.  We added extra wire in the corners at the roof line.  Sunday morning: another dead bird & that made nine gone.  Another bird had most of her neck feathers ripped out, but looks to be otherwise healthy.

Our best theory is that whatever it is is small enough to fit in the channel of the corrugated roof.  We packed up the live birds (we used the dead one to bait a live trap) & brought them next door, where they are all a bit cramped, but at least they survived the night.  Nothing came for the dead bird, but Tropical Storm Debby was grinding herself for hours right on top of us most of the night.  The rain was so loud, we had trouble having a conversation in any room with many windows, forget the room with a skylight.  We could not even hear the tv, sitting less then 6 feet away in a room with surround sound. 

Soooo, we don't know was the dead bird not temptation enough?  Did whatever it is just not try because of the weather? Did it maybe (hopefully) drown where ever it was holed up?  We plan to leave the trap baited another night & check back again tomorrow.  No mater what the result, the birds are at W*****'s until Thursday or maybe even the weekend, because of course A is leaving town again tomorrow.

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