I came home from working a stretch. Annmarie and I cleaned out boxes and threw a bunch of stuff out. All in an attempt to get things clean before our company comes in 2 weeks. Now, we all know that it needs to be done anyway, but this lights a fire under me and things get done. I am very much a deadline kinda guy. As in, I like to wait until the deadline is near before I do anything! I work better under pressure. Kinda explains my career choice. But I digress.
I was readying the car for the five boxes from the house and I noticed the 50# bag of chicken food. Sarah had just gotten home so I asked her if the chickens needed feeding. She said yes, so being the naive parent, I asked why the chicken food was in the car if the chickens needed it? So I lugged it to the coop and ranted to the child about the state of the chicken’s water and food when I smelled it, skunk. Annmarie had told me that the dog had found a skunk over the weekend. I had set the live trap last week, but had not put any food in it. I checked it every day, telling myself I should throw some bait (dog food) in it all week long. I looked up and sure enough there was a black and white stinky kitty in the trap (skunk). I also had to catch my little tiny showgirl hen baby. She had gotten out of her enclosure.
So I went back inside and grabbed the P-22 pistol. Now when shooting skunks I stand about 20 feet away from the trap. I had to shoot the skunk three times before I smelt the tell tail waft of dead skunk. I went back into the chicken run to work on some holes in the fence I made last year with the metal weed whacker blades. Sarah had pointed them out to me. So I was down on the ground trying to sew metal mesh together with metal wire, when Sarah points out that the skunk was still alive! It was standing up and had turned around in the cage. So I went back over and shot it three more times using my laser, then turned said laser off, and put three more rounds in its head with the sights only. I did not want to move a live skunk. Not to mention it is like shooting a small ping pong ball at 20 feet. Skunks have small brains. It was overkill. Even I realize that, but I did not want a third resurrection.
I scooped the top four inches off of my deep litter in the coop under the roosts. I also turned it all and then wet it down with the hose, I am hoping that keeps some of the dust down. I need to get the shop vac out there and clean up the coop and spider webs. Sarah threw away 10 empty bags of feed. I turned the sprinklers on as I was leaving.
I got to drive up to the bone yard and dispose of the skunk. Some predator likes the taste of skunk! The last skunk carcass had been moved about ten feet and picked over. I dumped that one out onto the ground and drove back to the house. I counted over 20 deer on the 1/2 mile drive to the house. Of course, the back of the pickup reeks like skunk again. Not sure what to do about this. If the mule (small four wheel drive utility vehicle) was still working I would use it, but it is broken. I sure hope the predators stop coming around soon. I did set the trap and bait it again tonight.
Here is a picture of our house at night.
Well, I never got out there and hooked up my light to the chicken coop. It is definitely on the to do list today. Sarah only collected 8 eggs this morning (didn’t do it yesterday, as parental supervision was minimal). Two were fairy eggs. I have been giving the fairy eggs away, as they are very small and some don’t have a yolk. I have another dozen! I just gave away an 18 pack away on Monday from last week. Chickens need to get it figured out! At 2230 last night I stepped out the front door on my way to lock the chickens up, I was assaulted by a horrific odor. Another skunk. Now I had been contemplating not locking up the chickens. This whole locking them up every night is getting old. I feel like a child who sleeps with closet door closed. If I forget to close the door the bogey man will get me (or my chickens).
That $200 for the automatic door is starting to sound more affordable every day. Especially, if I get the chicken numbers back up over 50 laying hens. I quickly changed my plans, went back in and grabbed the Walther P22 pistol. When I loaded it, I realized I had not changed the clip after the latest round of executions, so I slipped in a fresh clip. Hitting a moving target in the dark is not easy, especially when it is a skunk and distance is a serious issue. I sulked out the front door armed and ready, as I flashed my high power flashlight around, I spotted glowing eyes everywhere!!! The orchard was full of them. I spotted 5 deer before I quit counting. No skunks. Over by the coop I pulled a bead on my favorite new kitty “mouse killer”. He is all black and was running toward me. Luckily for him, my finger is my safety, and I did not have my finger on the trigger, it was laying along the body of the pistol. Chickens were golden. I flashed the light around through the chicken door. They muttered at the intrusion. The hen that is trying to hatch one egg was still in her nest box and our Polish hen was sitting in the opening to one other nest box. I figure if those two are alive then all is good. They are the easiest to snack on, as they are the closest to the ground.
Here is mouse killer’s picture. He was batting around some poor mouse this morning on the front porch. Luckily, for the mouse, it was dead.
I took the dead skunk up to the boneyard to drop it off. It stunk something fierce. Sarah refused to come with me, I offered to trade her jobs, but she wasn’t biting. I drove the mile up to the boneyard and jumped out to empty the trap. I lifted one end of the trap and attempted to shake the skunk out onto the ground. It would not come out, so I shook harder. Thing would still not fall out and the stink was all over me and getting worse. So I turned the trap over and looked to see what was hanging up the body. Damn skunk had sunk its teeth into the cage in its death throes. Its jaws were locked onto the cage! Didn’t want to get more stink on me, so I just rolled the cage around till it fell loose. I then had to shake all the dirt out of the cage also. It stank something fierce. I didn’t want to leave the dirt in the cage, it was contaminated with smelly spray. I hosed out the cage when I got back to the house. Set the trap on the other end of the chicken coop enclosure. For everyone who thinks I am cruel, the trap is less than six feet from my chicken enclosure. The predators are choosing to die by scouting my chickens. Just avoid the chickens and you will live a healthy and long life.
When I went out to lock the chickens up after dark and bait the live trap the moon was out. I ran back in and took some pictures. I noticed afterwards that I have something on my camera lens. I cleaned it and tried it again. Slightly better, but I still have a few spots that show up. May have to take it to a camera shop if this persists.
This is the old wooden grainary at night. hard to believe it is lit by moonlight only.
This is the tree behind the chicken coop. It is amazing how light it can be with the moon. I had to come inside and shower after dealing with the skunk and I still smell it occasionally, even now.
Dumb chickens only gave us 9 eggs today. Definitely need to get that artificial light going inside the coop.
I caught another predator this morning. It started out simple, let the dogs out to pee, since I was up and outside I decided to let the chickens out. That was when I noticed the skunk in our live trap. Now they make a live trap for skunks, it is far smaller than mine. I cannot catch big raccoons if I use the smaller skunk trap. Know why the skunk trap is smaller? It is so they cannot lift their tail. If they can not lift the tail then they don’t spray. Hence no bad smell. Unfortunately, I cannot just cruise on up to the live trap, lift it and carry it away. I would get sprayed. So I had to stand way, way back and shoot it. Every time I shoot a skunk they spray, there is just no way around it. I am going to have to go out way later today and empty the trap up at the boneyard. The smell is palpable! I was having a hard time breathing because I could taste the smell. Not very pleasant. Then Annmarie and I heard some meowing (she had come outside after she heard the gunshot). One of our kittens had somehow gotten into the back of the chicken coop and was stuck up on a rafter. While I was getting the ladder, she coaxed it into coming over to her while she was standing on top of the nesting boxes. I was not needed.
As I am moving sprinklers around in the Ram pasture (I was outside, so might as well get some things done quick) I noticed all the sheep were outside the fence where they are not supposed to be! The three sheep that were inside the fence where they belong are the three that are getting slaughtered in 2 weeks… go figure. I will have to find a small amount of time today to fix that chunk of fence.
So as I am walking inside the house I spot a hawk land in the tree directly next to my chicken coop. I came inside, thought about it for a couple of minutes and went outside and scared it off. It is one of the juveniles from the nesting pair we have about 400 yards from the house. They usually just leave us alone. No chicken dinner for him. No chicken dinner for anyone.
When our sheep were inside the yard eating (mowing) our lawn, Annmarie caught one of the coffee girl lambs up on the front porch licking our screen door glass. I had just washed the door with windex cleaner the weekend before. Obviously, windex tastes good, who knew? I had been blaming the dogs for rubbing their noses all over the glass!
I got to spend a little time in the chicken coop tonight. Sarah was feeding the chickens and she found a mouse in the chicken food garbage can. Now, since I have instructed the child multiple times to place the lid back on the metal trash can I was less than sympathetic. I told her to pop it with the plastic container, scoop it up and toss it outside for the cats. I went outside and worked on the sprinkler system for the chicken yard. Sarah hit the mouse multiple times to no avail. She ended up getting a second container and trapping the mouse and then taking it outside for our cuddly kitten (about 14 weeks old). The mouse took off running, it was no match for a wily outside cat. No more mouse. I need to add a couple more sprinklers to the chicky yard. My new grass died from lack of water to the appropriate spots.
I am getting several small eggs a week now. So hopefully my production from the chickens will start back up again. It is almost time to get the timer and light going again. The chickens need 17 hours of light/day to maintain peak production. I use a timer and a cheap light (40W). I had unplugged the extension cord to the coop to use for my new electric weed eater. So after this weekend, I will put it back. After September, I should have time to wire the chicken coop with power. Lots of jobs, just no time to finish them.
This is my oldest rooster. He has a young pup to compete with now. He is constantly running every time he hears a hen squawking. He chases the young roo off of the hens. Unbeknown to him, both of the roosters will be food when my Blue egglayer roosters grow up.
There are times when nothing gets done. Work has been crazy (I volunteered to teach some classes and drive a metaphorical bus, more work), we are getting ready for the Swim team major fundraiser in 4 weeks and there is no time left for anything else. So the farm is on cruise. Now that has not prevented the sheep from getting out every day. I left the barn door open and I think they are jumping into the barn and running out the other side. The momma and her babies are still crawling under the fence where it crosses the creek (I am gonna fix that today with a hog wire panel). The teenage chickens have started to lay. In the last two weeks we have gotten over a dozen fairy eggs (very small eggs with no yolks). I gave them all to one of my original local egg customers.
My baby chicks are running around in their outside enclosure. I had switched my drip sprinklers to a new rotary style drip sprinkler. Damn things won’t turn. Total waste of $2. So now I am going to scavenge parts off of those and use in my old ones.
Here are the sheep cooling off next to the old wood shed. They love leaning up against the concrete on a hot day. The chicken is a Silver Laced Wyandotte. They are pretty fragile as chicks but I am having good luck with them as adults (if they live to adulthood).
Sunday night when we were going to bed Annmarie asked me if I had locked the chickens up? Of course, I was upstairs in our bedroom half undressed. I had not locked the chickens up, so I trudged downstairs, grabbed a flashlight and some dog food. I figured since I was going outside already I would bait the live trap. I locked the chicken yard up and set the trap and baited it. The trap is literally four feet from my chicken enclosure, so any critter getting caught in it has aspirations of a chicken meal. We woke up Monday morning and are laying in bed talking when Annmarie says “Isn’t that a raccoon chittering?” I listen and then make an authoritative statement “No, just some birds”. We send Sarah out to the chicken coop to feed the babies and water first thing in the morning (she had not done it the evening before). She comes running back inside stating “There is a raccoon in the trap”. I guess Annmarie was right and I was wrong. I went out and dispatched the coon, then carried the trap to the pickup so they could drive it up to the boneyard for disposal. I heard later that Sarah was moaning because she got a drop of blood on her shoe when she emptied the trap. I still have not caught the other adult coon.