I found a bobcat in one of my snares yesterday, which was Day Three of having snares out. It was a big male — 26 pounds. Most my chicken losses are consistent with how bobcats hunt (dawn or dusk, with a short chase, a quick kill, and the chicken carried away without being dragged), but I think I’m losing chickens faster than can be explained by a single bobcat, however big, so I’ll keep up my anti-predator efforts.
Living in the country requires trade-offs, and so does farming. Taking vacations in February instead of August, for example.
Sometimes the trade-offs seem like a good deal. Corvallis has an excellent fireworks display every Fourth of July, but we are so far north that the city waits until it’s fully dark at about 10:15 PM before starting the display. After it’s done, there’s a brief traffic jam and then (if you’re me) a half-hour drive home.
I recently fell into the free-range chicken farmer’s nightmare: missing hens. A few scatterings of feathers where hens had been nabbed, but obviously a lot more hens are missing than that.
Couldn’t happen at a worse time — during the upswing of the farmer’s market season. Demand for free-range eggs is increasing and I have a sharply reduced supply of hens, and therefore eggs.
There’s a tire sealer called “Slime” that works like a charm. On my lawn tractor, the sidewalls on the tires were horribly cracked and the tires were obviously shot. On a whim, I bought a bottle of “Slime” and poured it in according to the instructions, and the horrible tires actually lasted another season with no trouble!
A lot of the biggest problems we’ve ever had on the farm were related to unwanted critters trying to get at the chicken feed. Recently, we put some pullets into a pasture house and put a feeder inside the house with them as part of the transition. Since this was an open-front house, the local crows started coming in for lunch, which scared the pullets. Moving the feeder outside didn’t get rid of the crows, but there’s a lot more room outdoors, and their occasional presence didn’t terrorize the pullets.