Well, it finally happened. After...four?five? successful years of raising chickens on pasture, this morning we were faced with the realities of nature versus man (and chicken). There is a fox and her family with very sore bellies this morning as they enjoyed a feast of more than 60 four week old chickens last night.
Just yesterday, I was out and took this picture of the birds enjoying their outdoor pens, since they were only moved out at the beginning of this week, but I could use this for a Missing poster now. One pen is completely empty, without a sign of anything anywhere and the other pen has a hole in it with a few birds missing, but we couldn't tell how many. I figured this meant that the fox wasn't done and would be back for the rest this morning.
As Mark, Lucy and Wilson and I headed out on the four-wheeler this morning, gun tucked away in Thayne usual spot(not loaded, don't stress), I spotted the little critter on the other side of the field, heading back for more. We gave chase and found a well worn trail heading across the road to our neighbour's place. Come to find out, the fox and four pups have been living in the barn behind her house for a while now (ugh) and she's worried about her little dog, but doesn't have a gun. Mark blows the snow for her driveway and now he's going to very gladly blow the fox from her barn.
At least, that's the plan. He found the entrance to the den at the side of the barn (a little ring of chicken feathers around the entrance), but the big fox was still hiding out in the field somewhere and he's going to wait till tonight when they come out to 'play', which apparently they do every night. Unless we spot the fox coming back to the pen today, which I maintain she will. I predict she will not rest until BOTH pens are totally empty.
Speaking of weapons, here's the latest tool Mark has rounded up to use on the farm. With so much couch grass coming off using the finger weeder, it could lead to a lot of broken soybean plants, so Mark borrowed this rotary hoe from an organic neighbour.
In other exciting news, the compost turner FINALLY made her maiden voyage! It turned a lot faster than I expected, but otherwise, ran as intended. Wendell just made a small pile of a smelly cocktail of items (dairy and hog manure and mussel shells) to run through, as our current piles are two wide for it, but it made short work of that.
Here's the smelly result. I had four kids on the four wheeler with me for the exciting moment and as we stopped to take a picture of the final result, cousin Molly said, "Hey look at those flies! It's just like the time Hank (her brother) pooped in a cardboard box and all the flies came! It smells a lot worse though."
And here's some proof that things are indeed growing (especially after this week of SUN!!!) Our winter wheat is flowering! It looks so good this time of year with the plump kernels and vivid greens/blues. A nice distraction from any weeds/problems that might be happening in the spring crops, although for the most part, those are looking pretty good too.
In a final note, we FINALLY made it to the beach!! Here's a shot of Thayne enjoying a 'SANDwich'. hehehe.
Hope this finds you celebrating the Red and White somewhere, somehow today. As I said on our Facebook page, Barnyard Organics will be enjoying our own private fireworks show tonight at the fox den. Mmwahaha.
ps. In a final death toll count, after we moved the remaining survivors inside, the fox managed to partake in 81 birds. And he wasn't picky, that includes meat birds, but also half of our layer flock as well. Ah well, once again, "if you're gonna have livestock, you're gonna have deadstock."