Just three days shy of our red chickens second “gotcha” anniversary, we’ve lost three hens – Lime, Blue & Blacksy – in a mink (we think) attack this morning.
We woke up to hear chicken kerfuffling – that’s not uncommon, them bwarking about laying an egg – but it was different to normal and when John looked out of the bedroom with the binoculars, he saw feathers all over the run. We ran down to see what was happening – I thought perhaps someone had prolapsed and the others were attacking – but no. There were three dead chickens on the ground and even though we were stood there, a little nose peeked out of a hole in the ground twice before running away.
Ginger (the Black Rock) and one of the reds were high up on perches in the run when we got in there, and the other red was in the coop’s nest box so I didn’t immediately know which of the reds had died but once we knew that the mink or whatever it was had gone away, it was time to figure out who was gone. I identified our girls with a heavy-heart. Blacksy was easy to identify as she was our only fully black one (another Black Rock) but the reds needed closer inspection. I know it’s awful but I was really hoping that they were the other two red (Ms Mauve & Green), not my favourites Lime & Blue – they all look very similar but I soon found Blue’s blue ring (the only one of them still wearing a leg ring) and Lime’s black flecks in her neck feathers. Sigh.
We buried them in the woods and John’s dad is now around, helping to re-secure the run. It was designed to be fox-proof as we thought they’d be our main threat but despite seeing foxes in and around the garden on a number of occasions (and hearing them barking at night quite regularly), we’ve not had any trouble from them. From the cold winter in 2010-2011, we’ve had ratty residents digging tunnels but as they didn’t seem to bother the chickens, we weren’t too obsessive about filling them in ASAP – we didn’t think anything that could fit through them would be enough of a threat. Sighhhhhh.
The other three chickens are currently locked in their (safe, well off the ground) coop but I’m going to let them have some closely supervised garden time soon. It will be sad garden time though, without my cheeky compadres Lime & Blue constantly getting in the way.
Personalities (chicken-alities?) aside, all three were good layers and their yolky offerings will be missed.
(Pictures: Lime Chicken eating my Swiss Chard last year, Blues investigating the greenhouse a couple of months ago, and Blacksy posing in the run last year)