The concerns in town are usually of the fox, raccoon and winged variety. Keeping 6 backyard chickens safe isn’t too hard. Lots of one inch square wire to keep prying paws out is a necessary expense, but definitely manageable. As you move out of the city, and likely increase your livestock numbers as I am beginning to, it starts becoming a little trickier. The “enemies” grow in equal proportion to one’s required vigilance.
With this last snow I was greeted in the morning not only by my rooster Head-Wound Henry (long story that involves a raccoon and a vet tech), but also by a cacophony of howls from my neighborhood pack of coyotes (hope they are just coyotes). Regularly they sound the alarm at dusk, but this was my first early morning serenade. It alerted me to the numerous tracks in the yard. A super highway of nocturnal life. Last week I, or rather one of my dogs, found a rabbit pelt in the drive, not too far from the coops. A little close for comfort. Apparently three dogs marking everything in sight is not a deterrence. A few weeks before that we spotted a pup at the far end of the field, in the thicket near the irrigation pond. Then this week I find all the tracks in the snow. Around the coop, the compost pile, along the side of the house and exiting to the field across the street. It really was only a matter of time. Seems the pickin’s were slim with the coop doors shut, aside from a compost mouse that was pounced and left in a snowdrift.
The owls and hawks are active, with little beaks to feed (Front Range has four owlets this year in their nest on campus) and the four legged vegetarians are out looking for some green morsels tapping through the wet earth. You know, like your newly planted spinach and greens. The draw is on for carnivores, with fresh lambs and kids shining like an all you can eat buffet beacon.
Admittedly, my vigilence wained through the long nights and cold days. I am lucky I suffered no losses from third parties. My advice to myself is wake up to the signs and build that new chicken run that’s in the works with Fort Knox in mind. With that I leave you with this simple wish. May your livestock be well and your predators fed full elsewhere. Spring, my dear, has arrived.