Monday, July 25, 2016

Chicken Imprisonment

The good news is that the fox hasn't eaten any more of the flock since we lost the original seven birds.  Whew.  And, I've been able to go in the house or to work without fear that I would come back out to find another massacre.  The bad news is that we have resorted to imprisoning the flock behind an electric poultry fence.  I miss having them around me when I'm outside.  I also don't like that my flock is now dependent on the grid.  My chickens are burning coal!

Joe had a couple of spare fences that needed some patching that he let us buy at a discount.  We now have two hundred feet of movable electrified fence that we can arrange around the mobile coop.  The short posts are attached to the fence and have pointy stakes on the bottom that can be pushed into the ground by foot.  With two people, it's possible to unroll the fence and place the posts fairly easily.   At least as easily as you imagine it would be to wrestle a bundle of tangled fencing wrapped around sharp stakes while you sweat in the hot sun and curse the rocks under the shallow soil.  Stupid fox.

Until we get a solar fence charger, we are limited to the length of an extension cord for our fence location.  Joe lent us a powerful fence charger, but after seeing the amount of current it was producing on the fence tester, we decided to use the much less powerful, but also less painful, tiny fence charger that my parents used to use on a single wire around their garden.  The charge barely registers on the fence tester, but we know it works because Wendigo learned not to chew on the fence.  For some reason she had to learn it about three times in a row, but eventually she got the message.  Hopefully the fox learned it more quickly.  

The chickens were not happy about their loss of freedom for the first few days.  I could tell because I only got three eggs, and they were in weird locations in the grass.  But now everyone seems to have settled in okay, and the eggs are rolling in just like before.  With a small flock of twenty-one, we've been able to leave them in one place for over a week before the grass starts to look worn down.  It's been so hot that they spend the sunny part of the day in the shade of the coop, and forage around in the mornings and evenings.  The guineas fly out of the fence at will, but can't seem to figure out how to get back in without me holding the fence open for them in the evening while they cry and stare desperately at the coop.  Wendigo is working on her herding skills as she helps me gently lead the guineas to the open fence.  Sometimes it's a fiasco and we end up with guineas in the trees and on the roofs.  Thanks, Wendi!  

The four chicks are small enough that they just walk through the fence, and sometimes the mamma hen figures out how to get over the fence to be with them.  Everyone wants back in at night though, so I lock the coop door and turn the fence off.  

I saw the fox dart into the bushes while I was driving home yesterday.  It's a much more beautiful animal when it's not chomping on one of my hens.  It has big pointy ears like Puck, and it's tail is bushy with a lighter color fur at the tip.  It's slender too, like it could really use a chicken dinner!

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