It only took an instant to realize that I was hearing chickens. Dh ran outside to utter chaos. The chicken were yelling, feathers were everywhere, etc.
We have mostly Ameraucana's, with a red-blue laced Wyandotte, and a Brahma. The Wyandotte would not calm down, and the Brahma was standing in a pan of water - at 35 degrees out.
Dh picked each Ameraucana up and examined them...no wounds. Then, he got the Brahma out of the water. She was fine, just freaked out.
Finally, he went to the Wyandotte, who was still screaming, and she fought him. But, he ascertained that she, too, was fine. No wounds at all. By then, she had decided that it was okay, now that Dh was there. She tucked herself under Dh's arm, and wouldn't come out. After a while, he got her into their sleeping house, and she tucked herself under his arm from there.
Both the Wyandotte and Brahma had feather's missing. Something grabbed them, and some others, but only got mouthfuls of feathers.
Except that...one of the smaller Ameraucana's is missing. Taken out of the hen yard, I'm sure.
Dh went around the perimeter...unbreached. Then, the netted roofing. Apparently, when we had those 60 mph winds, something loosened that you couldn't see, unless you worked it above head level with your hands. Whatever got in apparently worked it until they found it, dropped down from the top, then took the hen back out that way.
Because it went that way, I'm letting out a skunk as a suspect. It could have been a raccoon, but I'm not leaning that way.
I'm leaning toward fox, or something weasely, maybe a marten.
That it attacked several birds makes me think of a bobcat, too, but the other birds were grabbed with a mouth, and not injured.
Which makes me think of a younger, more inexperienced animal.
Dh fixed the top of the pen, but I don't trust an animal that got a bird in the winter, when times are leaner. So, we put them away, locking them in their sleeping boxes, an hour early today. Presuming that this is an animal that hunts at night.
Usually, as the sky colors up for sunset, the hens have gone to bed, and we lock them in. Tonight, Dh had to catch each one and put it in, not letting her out while he got the next, and next. They don't like that, but it can't be helped right now.
I'm thinking of putting something on the fence to keep out predators. I can't have this happening, and I don't want to rely on getting them put away super early.
First of all, how awful for the birds...especially the poor bird who is dragged out. I feel really bad just thinking about it.
Also, I am now down to 9 hens. We rely on the girls, a lot of the year, to feed both of our families. With the iffiness of getting eggs, and their price, it makes a lot of food possible.
I am so hoping that there are chicks for sale at the place that we buy them locally, this year. There's been some doubt about that. If so, when I add back to my flock, I have decided to get a male. I usually only get roosters by accident, though I enjoy the morning crowing, but I would do it on purpose this time, given the chance.
Roosters are considered useless by many people, if you consider that you feed them and they don't lay eggs, but they can make good pets...sometimes, they warn hens of predators, and will engage a predator if one does happen to show up. Plus, as I said, I am a morning person anyway, and enjoy hearing one crow in the morning. We'll see if there are even any chicks this spring...
The biggest negative is that Thyri won't be allowed to go near a rooster, however tame he is with us. But, she doesn't live here, so I'm willing to make that trade-off.
First, I'm going to talk to Dh about a fence shocker. I'm not fooling around here, I will not put up with a literal fox in the henhouse.
And, looking on the kinder side of things, the fox will live to see another day. It won't kill him. The cats don't go near the hen house, and neither does Krypto. He's not allowed to. Which does bring up a good point, if we're lucky, it will keep a stray dog away from them, too. I say lucky, because I've seen dogs ignore small fence chargers.
Anyway, that was our evening/night last night. I'm just relieved not to have had several wounded girls, since several were grabbed.
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