We have had to stop letting our girls free range, because in ONE day, three of our girls disappeared... as well as our handsome rooster, Heff. I knew something was after them in broad daylight and with the size of some of the chickens it did away with without leaving a single feather, I knew it was pretty serious. I'm down to 16 chickens (some injured, some butchered, some lost to various predators, etc) from 32 since April... so we're not playing around anymore.
This afternoon, Jackson and I walked out to the chicken coop to take the ladies some fruit (smushy banana and too soft peach- very appreciated, by the way!) and one of our newest hens got out- one of the ones we got off of Craigslist when her owners moved! Cake is her name and this chicken was clearly terrorized at some point in her life- she is absolutely scared to death of humans. Ugh! Makes her a nightmare to interact with, especially if I need to get within ten feet of her!
I tried to entice her back into the fenced run, but it wasn't gonna happen. She went head first into the woods. I decided to wait and see if she would come back out and let me open the door for her.
All I saw was a flash of ORANGE, saw feathers fly, and I started yelling. The fox looked at me and then ran off. No wonder I was losing chickens- it was a freakin' buffet for a fox family out there! One that is clearly not afraid to come into my yard in broad daylight.
My dogs, in their dog run since a chicken was out and they have strong prey drives, were going INSANE. I have a 65lb Boxer and a 70lb Lab. Them losing their mess did NOT help the situation- the chicken was terrified, I couldn't catch her, and I knew the fox would come back. It was ballsy enough. So I waited.
All of the sudden, the darn fox (which was HUGE, by the way) hurls itself out of the woods and starts chasing my hen around the yard. They were not 4 feet from me by the time I started yelling for Tim to get a gun. NC has pretty high instances of rabies and I wasn't screwing around anymore. Unfortunately, he didn't hear me inside the house- he was on a business call. I grabbed Jackson, our two year old, and was going to get inside- the chicken be darned- since I had no idea if it was safe to be out there at this point.
Right then, the chicken ran head first into the dog run. Max, our Boxer, was ready and waiting for something to come within his reach, so he practically swallowed her head and neck. I hurled a rock at the fox, it ran into the woods, and I ran over to Max who was trying to pull the chicken into his dog run!
I was going to be SO upset if the fox didn't get the chicken, but my dumb dog did!
I pried the chicken out of the dog's mouth and she had not a scratch on her!! I looked her over carefully and then put her in the chicken coop to go on and live another day. I, on the other hand, have decided that the foxes have gotta go. I'm setting humane traps tonight and as far as I'm concerned, we're serving their eviction notice.
Our own personal soap opera- "As The Coop Turns!"
Jackson, by the way, was incredibly entertained.