Predator Alert!

We finally had our first real predator show up.  The chicken hawk now knows where we live and has put us on his speed dial.  He first showed up about a week ago when I was sitting in the yard with the girls.  All four chickens stopped eating their treat and immediately scattered.  Three went into the coop and one ran behind the coop and remained there on high alert.  At first, I didn’t know what was up and they wouldn’t come out when I tried to coax them out.  I could tell they were extremely agitated, so I started looking around the yard thinking I might find a stray cat or dog.  Sitting right on the fence behind me was a big hawk.  He was just watching the girls, and were they ever watching him!

I chased him off, but it took a long time for the girls to feel comfortable enough to come out of their coop.  For several days after that, they would make their way onto the covered patio and hide there all day when I let them out of their coop.  And when they did venture into the yard, I followed them around with a really long stick ready to do some ninja karate moves on that chicken hawk should it try to swoop down on my chickies.  Well, it finally showed up again yesterday morning.  I decided to let the girls range in my enclosed tomato garden for a while which has an aviary net draped over the top to deter birds.  My neighbor called me on the phone and said I should get outside right away because the hawk is trying to get into the tomato garden.  I hurried out to find the hawk on the gate trying to get into the netting.  I chased it off and noticed that the netting (which was pretty flimsy) was pulled away from the fence just enough for the hawk to slip through.  The girls saw me and ran out from under the tomato plant they were cowering under and practically clung to my legs.  The whole time they were making strained little noises as if trying to tell me what almost happened to them.  I could see that they were terrified, and I instantly felt horrible that I almost let them get trapped and cornered with no escape.  They let me pick them up and put them back into their coop.  They sat on their perches looking traumatized for the longest time.

So, after a long discussion last night, my husband and I decided to go to Buchheits Farm Supply tomorrow and get materials to build a large 20′ x 18′ fenced in run with a top on it for the chickens to range in.  (Especially since I cannot be a full-time chicken herder/watchdog in the backyard, and I feel way too bad leaving the chickens in their small existing run all day long.)  Talk about pampered chickens!

I will happily accept all suggestions for the top/cover of this new run.  I really don’t want to fence the top of the run and I am looking for alternative ideas.  One idea is to use twine and run it back and forth in all directions over the top of the run to prevent the hawk and other birds from entering the top. But if anyone has any other ideas or suggestions, please let me know!

Well, I’m off to wander the yard with the chickens now with mighty stick in hand to slay the terrible dragon (hawk) if it dares to show itself!

Cluck, cluck y’all!

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