Sunday, July 22, 2012

Predators, Schmedators.

When we first started this venture, Tina and I were concerned about the possibility of a marauding predator conducting a late night raid on our field pen. The pen we built isn't particularly sturdy - it's made up of 2x2s, chicken wire and corrugated plastic. Fort Knox, it ain't. Although the predators we have around here - coyotes, raccoons, mink, opossum - aren't generally a threat to people, they're more than capable of decimating our little flock. And chicken wire definitely isn't going to keep a hungry coyote out. I've even heard stories of raccoons reaching through the wire, grabbing a wing or a leg, pulling it through and gnawing away while the chicken is still alive on the other side of the fence.

Fortunately, we haven't lost a single bird to predators. We haven't even seen evidence that any critters have tried to get at them. I think there are probably three reasons for this.

First, we've kept the pens as far away from the forest as possible. The chickens are camped out in the the middle of the open field. There is no cover anywhere and I suspect that acts as a deterrent to anyone looking for an easy meal. They'd have to put themselves at risk by crossing a couple of open acres close to the house.

And that brings me to my second point - those open acres are inhabited by two horses, a llama and an alpaca. Now, my horse has a live and let live kind of attitude. She'd let a coyote cross the field no problem as long as it left her alone. Tina's horse is another story. He hates dogs with a fiery, burning passion and would be more than happy to chase a coyote down and stomp it into the ground. Dalai the llama is a big wimp and not a threat to anyone but Paco the alpaca LOVES dogs. He plays with my and Tina's dogs all the time. I wouldn't be surprised if he charged up to a coyote and tried to start a game. He'd come in peace but the coyote definitely wouldn't know that.

Finally, there are four dogs that spend a significant portion of every day out in that field. They pee, poop and roll all over the place. That whole field has to reek of dog. I'm not convinced that any of the dogs would actually defend the chickens but perhaps the coyotes, raccoons, etc just don't want to risk it? My dog, Cairo, actually did run down a coyote once. When he caught up to it he tried to play with it. Such a great guard dog. Maybe we'll just keep that a secret from the local coyote population so they stay away!

Cairo says, "Don't mess with my chickens!"

I know it looks like Cairo is tormenting Paco but Paco actually starts it most of the time. He follows the dogs around and jumps at them to get them to play.

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