Saturday, August 12, 2017

Raccoons

Yesterday morning I walked out behind the barn to where the pigs and meat birds reside. The pigs were in their paddock, a yard of forest and brush against a hillside with a shelter. The meat birds were in the now tilled-under kailyard. But those meat birds are not just in cute garden fence. They are inside a chicken tractor with a latching door, which is surrounded by electric wiring, inside a cute garden fence. So you can imagine my surprise at seeing 3 birds ripped apart and dead inside.

Raccoons.

There was a hole in the roof of the wiring. It was enough to let a raccoon reach in and grab/pull on/eat alive some of the birds I was raising for the freezer. How did they get past the electric fence you ask? Easy. I had forgot to turn it on the night before. One night and one mistake and three birds gone to the wildlife hunger fund. I cursed myself for forgetting. I had a long day and company over and during night rounds I got caught up with the laying hens in the barn and trying to find a missing pullet (she was in the rafters) that I didn't go back into the woods to plug in the meat bird fence.

I've not lost a bird from predators all spring and into summer with the triple fortification system I was so proud of. All it took was a night off for the bandits to test, climb, and find the weakness in the system.

I learned my lesson and patched it yesterday. I also checked all the wiring and clearance. But it is still disheartening, and a failure to those animals. This is part of farming, learning from mistakes - over and over. The point is to not let those mistakes stop you, and to farm better the next day.

This morning all of the birds were fine, whole, and no returning raccoons took any more. A small victory but means the world to those inside a kailyard tractor! 

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