There has been a terrible predator problem this fall, and a lot of coops were not originally built to be very predator-proof, because, well, there weren't predators to contend with. Boy that has changed all of a sudden. One of mom's big chickens was nabbed from the coop two nights ago and dragged out into the pasture (trail of feathers). I found her dead in the morning, missing her head and one wing. Oh geez that is heart-wrenching. :-(
The ground conditions were different than when Pablo disappeared. It was muddy, and the footprints I found by the fence between the corral and creek (by the gap where the water drains out to the creek) really shocked me.
Raccoon tracks, after almost 14 years of never having a raccoon on the place:
And... fox tracks?!?! Yikes! These are too small for Angus and too big for the cats and there haven't been any dogs visiting here.
For comparison, this is footprint from Angus (dog). Much larger, with big deep claw marks:
So I had to build some hasty modifications onto the coops that are out by the barn. I'll be the first to admit my construction skills really suck. Sometimes I think I have it all planned out but I always end up redoing something. I make things the wrong size, I put the hinges in the wrong place, it ends up all wonky... sigh. On the upside, this crappy stuff will manage to get the job done, and I used all scrap stuff from around the barn, so it didn't cost a dime.
On the egg chicken coop, one of the modifications was to put a little door on it so I can close the birds in at night. That way anything that comes in through the outdoor run can't get to them. They don't appreciate being jailed at night, but I don't think they appreciate being murdered either.
From the outside, open and closed:
From the inside, open and closed (fancy hinges, eh? It was the only matching pair I could find in the "hinges" container!):
The aviary that has all my show pullets is even more vulnerable. Closer to the creek, and totally not raccoon-proof. So I built them a door too to keep them in the little house at night. They don't appreciate being jailed either. And I don't love having to go out after dark every day to tuck in the birds, but... I gotta do it.
By the way this is my 1500th blog post.