Monday, October 1, 2012

Close encounters

Our last batch of chickens for the year are about three weeks old. Usually we try to finish earlier in the year so we don't have to combat poor weather, freezing waterers and predation problems but the baby's arrival put us off schedule this year. When we moved the birds from their enclosed brooder house out to open pasture pens we made the decision to set them up in our front lawn for the first few weeks until they get a little bigger. This time of year the Cooper's hawks migrate through to eat on the quail and fat, clueless chickens make for a much easier meal.

Since the birds are not yet fully feathered, we have a light inside their pasture shelter to keep them warm at night. This also means they can see around at night so they split their time between sleeping under the shelter and wandering around to eat and drink.

The other night Nathan was sitting at the computer when he heard a commotion in the chicken pen. He dashed outside and saw there was something in the shelter but couldn't quite tell what it was. He grabbed a 2x4 and gave it a big thump only to watch two huge eyes swivel around to look at him. An owl! And a big one at that. The owl hop, hop, hopped its way to the front of the shelter and flew away.

All of the chicks looked a little shook up but no worse for wear and we didn't find any casualties the next day. I honestly can't blame the owl for coming across a pen of birds aimlessly wandering around in the middle of the night. Hopefully though the encounter ended in an unpleasant enough experience for him to go find meals elsewhere from now on.

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