Friday, January 23, 2015

Tragedy Visits the Chicken Pen

Well readers, I have some bad news. Are you ready? The Tuesday before Thanksgiving a mink broke into the chicken pen. And in one night he murdered all ten chickens. All the Easter Eggers. And Ruby The American Mink is in the mustelid (weasel) family. It is very small. The largest males get no longer than 18 inches long and weighs less than 3 pounds. Now think about that. A weasel no longer than my arm and weighing less than 3 pounds killed all ten chickens in one night. Viscious. Mink can slink into any space that's one square inch or more and mister mink found a one inch square space to squeeze into. Readers, predators are a part of farming. When I was in grade school, a mink broke into our rabbitry. Luckily, only one rabbit was killed and we trapped him the very next night. Mink don't eat dead animals generally which makes them hard to trap in a barn environment especially if there is more than one hole they can get through. I knew something was wrong when I got to the door and it was too quiet. As soon as I surveyed the scene I knew it was the handiwork of a mink. I called Dad and began to collect the fallen hens. Yes, even Ruby had been taken. I'm very lucky that Dad is an expert trapper. We knew that the mink would return that night, expecting more chickens. Because you know, their brain is the size of a pea. To encourage the mink to abandon any caution he may have left, we borrowed a live bird from a neighbor and put it in a little cage that we hung from the ceiling of the coop. Dad laid out 4, count 'em 4 fox traps strategically placed on the coop floor. And, because my Dad is awesome, he put up a trail cam and all we could to was hope. And here he is my friends! Caught cold-blooded and red-pawed on camera! This mink is literally 4 steps away from the coop entrance and Ruby's retribution! And, the fox traps worked. To give you an idea of scale, here is another picture of the mink. His chicken killing days are O-ver! And for those of you keeping score at home, mink were in season to trap in November. I know this is sad news. I still miss Ruby. But readers, life must go on, on the homestead. I've had new chickens since Christmas and later this winter I will introduce you to them. Also, I will be experimenting with a new format to the blog so there will be more posts and a multimedia aspect so stay tuned. Ruby, gone but not forgotten.

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