I have decided that the updates on the farm are a combination of events that would be perfect for a soap opera or Shakespearean tragedy. I have shared my ups and downs with the quail and recently it has been more down than ups. Over the past couple of weeks I have lost over 25 quail to what I am guessing is a very lucky raccoon. This raccoon is lucky for many reasons but one is that it has not been caught. This raccoon has figured how to grab the quail through the fencing and eat them with little pressure. Once I discovered this I put up a second layer of fencing. This still did not deter it. I mentioned in an earlier post that I saw the raccoon one morning and yelled at Dustin to shoot it but he was just waking up and to my horrified eyes, I watch out the window the raccoon jogging across the lawn with Dustin lagging behind (almost smirking to itself).
To give my quail a fighting chance, I have reinforced the cage and think I finally have a new set up. Just when I thought I was good, the goats found a way to open the door and free more of the quail. During the evenings we can hear the roosters calling all across the field and lawn. Finally, the last event was one of the quail decided to hide under some logs in the cage and to my discovery found the smashed body. I am now down to 3 quail and 2 are boys. So, I have removed all the logs, added a thick plastic barrier 2 feet from the bottom of the cage and reinforced the door. Time to go shopping again.
I received news from the neighbors a week back that they had lost 5 of their hens due to a predator and asked to borrow our live trap. We had not had any luck or action and thought nothing of it. This morning the neighbors let me know that they had finally caught the raccoon. We were relieved!! It was a lazy Saturday so we took our time getting up. Once we got up, as a family we headed to the neighbors to see how they set up their trap. They were heading to an event so they were going to come back and deal with the raccoon or they said we could take care of it. We left it for them. As we headed home, I started to notice a large pile of feathers in our field. I quickly walked over to our barn and saw several piles of feathers. I began to count and realized that I had lost 4 hens and 1 rooster. I was feeling very defeated. Then Sadie informed us that 2 additional chickens were injured. I had a toe nail ripped off of one of my orphingtons and one of my leghorns had open wounds on her side and belly. We are waiting to see how both of them do to see if I will lose anymore.
After spending the day taking care of the after-math, my neighbor came over during the supper hour and informed us that the raccoon had gotten away. I am now even more defeated, ugh. I don’t know if I should give the raccoon kudos for outsmarting two male hunters or if I should raise my hands in defeat.
Well, to make myself feel better I am purchasing more chickens, quails, a baby monitor and at least one alpaca to resolve this issue. I have heard alpacas, donkeys, or geese are great guard animals. I am working on the alpaca route to see how it goes. We have also set up another live trap to see if we get any action.
I have to admit this is the not so glamorous part of farming and I will keep taking this a day at a time. On a positive note, our poor bantam Pancake has been hiding all over the barn because the adolescent rooster was approx. 16 weeks and starting to pay attention to her. He is a maran and towers over her. It has been a question mark if I was going to keep the rooster for fear that Pancake was going to get injured and now I don’t have to make the decision. I am hopeful he died protecting the hens this morning and ended up getting himself in trouble. We had decided to call him Mr. Darcy just last week.