The early dark of winter makes it especially difficult to remember to lock up the chooks each night. Our flock free ranges each day and returns to the coop around dusk. It’s right at the wrong time: the witching hour. I’m busy making dinner, bathing kids, feeding the dog, lighting the pot belly stove and numerous other tasks. Inevitably, the chooks sometimes get forgotten. And last night Mr Fox enjoyed breakfast on us.
I say breakfast as I’m guessing it was an early morning attack when the chooks had already left the coop as piles of feathers and one headless body were found among the trees in the yard. Had Mr Fox entered the coop, we would have been even unluckier and lost the whole flock of 12.
As it is, I lost a beautiful point-of-lay New Hampshire frizzle hen named Cappuccino and a sweet young French Wheaten Maran hen, both of which were part of trios I was looking forward to breed from come Spring. I am bitterly disappointed and sad, but only have myself to blame. I’d become a bit complacent. I remembered that I’d forgotten to close the door late last night when I was tucked up warm in bed. Needless to say, I didn’t get up.
So I’m down to the wire on the breeding front, with one rare breed Wheaten Maran rooster and hen left, and one New Hampshire rooster and flat-feathered hen. Hopefully I can stockpile enough fertile eggs from each of them to cobble together a clutch worth incubating. My friend, Toni, has one lonely little Wheaten Maran hen, which we’re going to introduce to my rooster and boost our egg production. She also has a serious incubator set up, which means we don’t have to rely on fickle hens to go broody.
Part of the grand plan for Edgefield is to build a new chook palace with multiple yards connected to a run ending in the future covered orchard. The chooks will have plenty of space but will no longer be able to free range which means I don’t have to remember to put them away each night and they stay safe and snug away from predators.
Sorry Mr Fox.