I have more bad news.
After all that, we’re now down to one chicken and zero guineas. We tended those birds all winter long in order to reap the benefits of bug control and free-range eggs this summer, to no avail.
And this time, the predator was not Trooper the Weimaraner.
Something–mostly likely a raccoon–nabbed all three guineas in one fell swoop, just as we were ready to plant this year’s garden. And over the last two weeks, something–most likely a hawk–has picked off the chickens, one by one.
We’re pretty sure a raccoon got the guineas:
- Whatever it was had to move a bucket filled with dirt and manipulate a latch in order to access the guinea coop.
- Several days later, we found a raccoon inside the chicken coop. Inside! The chickens were fine; the raccoon was merely napping. Seriously. It was during the day, which perhaps accounts for his groggy behavior, but we’re not convinced there wasn’t something amiss with this critter.
We do have two new batches of poultry–six guineas and six chicks, but we’re leery of turning them loose outside without some sort of protection. The new poultry was purchased just before we lost the adult birds; otherwise, we’d have bought more of them. At this rate, six of each seems sadly inadequate.
Did I mention we also recently discovered a possum in the hen house? And a four-and-a-half-foot rat snake?
It’s Not as Easy as it Looks
And now we finally understand why free range eggs are so darned expensive.
It’s because you must buy and raise approximately ten (or more) times the number of birds you actually want to end up with.
And you must build secure fences. And install complex latches on your coops.
And when all else fails, you may need to bring in the big guns.
The Big Guns
Mr. Native Texan is looking into the possibility of acquiring a certain breed of dog known for protecting chickens from predators. According to his research, this dog–the Anatolian Shepherd–can live with a flock full-time and will successfully protect them from harm.
There Were Some Homesteaders Who…
I must admit this whole adventure is starting to remind me of the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly:
They got the shepherd to guard the birds,
They got the birds to eat the bugs,
They had the bugs because of the garden,
And so on.
Those crazy wannabe homesteaders…
And that, my friends, is the reason why free range eggs are so expensive, and why we’ll never be true chicken farmers.
Photo credit: Anatolian Shepherd
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…