Our neighbor Marguerite came by Saturday morning to tell us that a predator had gotten into their hen house the night before and killed 22 chickens. She thinks it was a weasel, because it must have gotten in through a tiny hole, and weasels kill for sport (the chickens were simply slaughtered, not eaten). Ironically, Tom had taken in many of those birds from another farm to give them a safer home, because weasels were picking them off. Throughout the day we heard hammering as he refortified his coop to protect the survivors.
Cherisse immediately checked on our hens and found everyone alive and clamoring to be released. Our coop is pretty secure—Cherisse built it tightly, because even a rat can kill chickens. But predators are crafty and determined, so we must remain vigilant. We had a brief debate about letting ours outside that morning, but figured that the weasel would be tired from his night’s butchering.
This is a daily decision we make, and we’ve become much more cautious—not letting them out if we won’t be around to keep an eye on them, and walking around with the dogs frequently to deter predators. One day Cherisse saw a huge hawk land in our crabapple tree. She ran outside, scaring the hawk away, and found all of the chickens huddled under bushes in the front garden—very aware of the danger. I know hawks will catch chickens, but they formed such a large mass I hope they were intimidating enough.
Every time we go outside the chickens rush up to us, to see if we’ve brought scraps, and several times a day the mother hen hops up the steps to peer in the kitchen door (recently Cherisse wasn’t paying attention and the chicken almost followed her inside). They have such distinct personalities, and they are so much fun to watch, that we now can’t imagine living without chickens. So we will continue to do our best to keep them safe.