I hope all you fathers out there had relaxing Father’s Day. Mine wasn’t relaxing, but it was highly appropriate: I spent a chunk of the day laboring to protect the little ones … chickens, in this case.
A few days ago, Chareva informed me she found three dead chickens in the coop.
What?! No way! We built the Fort Knox of chicken yards!
Turns out Fort Knox isn’t so impenetrable if you leave the side door open. Somewhere in the course of rearranging and extending the nets to cover Chareva’s garden, we left a big ol’ gap between the garden and the chicken yard. I’m not sure how we failed to notice the big ol’ gap, but fail we did. Granted, the critter had to climb a fence to reach the gap in the nets, but it was only a matter of time. Once I spotted the gap, I felt a bit stooopid for not noticing it earlier.
We’ve been working on the chicken yard where we plan to move the chickens. Last month we finished putting up the poles, then endured the process of unfurling a thoroughly furled net and coaxing it up and over the poles. Now it’s up there nice and high.
We also repurposed the last of the pavers the previous owner left behind to create a don’t even try digging under this barrier. The only problem is that we didn’t have enough pavers to create a double layer.
That means we also didn’t have enough pavers to create a barrier between the two old chicken yards. As we found out the hard way a few years ago, a raccoon will happily let itself into the unprotected chicken yard nearest the forest, then burrow under the fence that separates that yard from the adjoining yard.
In other words, the re-netted chicken yard isn’t ready for prime time quite yet. Not until we make a few trips to Home Depot and buy more pavers.
So rather than move the chickens, we made another stooopid decision: we told ourselves if we pulled the tarp down over the current chicken coop and locked the chickens in there at night, they’d be fine for another day or two. After all, Rocky Raccoon IX had already eaten his fill and probably wouldn’t be back that night … right? I set a trap with a can of cat food inside just in case, figuring he’d rather go for the easy meal.
Two dead chickens on Sunday morning told us that 1) Rocky Raccoon IX isn’t a believer in intermittent fasting, 2) he prefers fresh chicken to cans of cat food, and 3) he’s perfectly capable of lifting a tarp, reaching into the coop and killing a chicken.
So we spent Sunday afternoon doing construction. At least the rain that had been forecast held off.
I didn’t take pictures because I was busy uttering ancient curses known only to small-time farmers who have to do hot, sweaty work on Father’s Day, but the construction job boiled down to adding a second layer of fencing on top of the fence that separates the garden and the chicken yard. Then we lowered the net a bit on that side and tied it to the top of the fence. Trust me, it was more work than the brief description suggests.
The remaining chickens were all alive and well this morning. Either Rocky Raccoon IX couldn’t find his way in, or he took the night off.
In the meantime, I reset the trap. If we’ve learned anything about raccoons, it’s this: once they discover a supply of chickens, they never stop trying to treat themselves to chicken dinners. The only permanent solution is to send them to raccoon heaven.