Remember this horrific day? Me, too. It was unforgettable. But I learned from that mistake. Yes, I learned to keep a close eye on my automatic coop door timer. Now my birds get to free range only during very specific hours. They don't get out for fresh air and bugs until enough time has passed in the morning for all predators to have left my place. And that door locks up tight at the first hint of dusk. We run an automatic light in the coop to lure them in to roost before dark. Foolproof. Or maybe not.
Yesterday evening, I was still waiting on the snow/sleet mess that was heading our way. So I went out and filled my critters water buckets and feeders-in case I couldn't get out to do it first thing this morning. But most of the bad weather missed us and I did make it out early.
The coop door wasn't supposed to be open until 3 hours later. I was quite surprised though, to see a hen hanging out in the yard. She was soaking wet and shivering. So I rushed over to herd her in through the "people" door and that's when I discovered the little automatic door-- open. The rope that raises and lowers the door had snapped in two. The door had been open all night. I had 3 scared chickens on the roost. And I had dead chickens and guineas everywhere. Another disaster.
We don't raise our poultry as pets. They have many jobs here-bug control, compost, eggs, and meat-all depending on their age. One of the benefits of raising our own meat is knowing how it was processed. DH does an excellent job of making sure all our animals leave life in a humane way. But these birds, all at different ages and therefore having multiple tasks, didn't get that chance. And I'm left with mixed feelings of
1) guilt for failure to protect an animal entrusted to my care, and
2) deep anger at whoever let their dogs out to run loose on my property last night
I do understand that sometimes a predator will take an animal to eat. And I trust in God's wisdom in setting nature up to be that way. But this was a senseless killing-for fun, sport.
I also know that some dogs can't control that prey drive that makes them do this kind of thing. I have two Beagles who would love nothing more than to play this game. But they can't. Why? Because my state has leash laws. It's illegal for my dogs to run at large. I wish all the "country folks" in my area knew and obeyed that law-sigh.
So now I am even more anxious to get that chicken fence done as soon as possible. I truly was in love with the idea of free ranging our hens, even accepting the idea of losing one or two to predators occasionally. But losing whole flocks at a time is unacceptable. So, hurry up Spring, I've got fencing to do!