If you are looking for a happy, uplifting post to start your week you should look elsewhere. My state of mental well being all weekend was not good, I would almost say it bordered on depressed at times. I more than likely have taken my last stride as a runner. My left knee has now got me limping more often than not for around a month. Even if the pain does eventually subside enough to allow me to walk limp free I just can’t justify restarting a cardio activity that includes impact. I’m just asking for knee replacement sooner rather than later. I have non-impact things I can do like the rower, my road bike and Cindy’s new Echelon indoor bike that can easily fit my cardio needs but I used to take a small bit of pride in the fact that I could still run. Letting that slip away is hard.
Saturday morning we had to go to two different Home Depots. I wanted to rent the manual sod roller since good old Miguel never decided to finish the job. The first store had their roller rented out already so we headed down to Naples location instead. The roller was a cheap rental of $25 for the day.
The roller is hollow and designed to be filled up with water. When filled it weighs approximately 300lbs. I filled it up and hooked it up to the back of the new tractor and got to work. 300 pounds is heavy for sure but not compared to the roller Miguel used which looked like a mini-steam roller. I went over all the sod in varying directions. It smoothed things out some but not dramatically.
As I was in the middle of doing one area I saw Cindy looking very upset and crying. I turned off the tractor immediately. Cindy said she just chased what she thought was a fox away from the chicken area. From her description I immediately knew it was actually a coyote. However the reason she was crying was because she could not find our one hen Georgie.
I went out to the chicken area and searched all of the spots she could be hiding and came up empty. I then went inside and checked the coop DVR which thankfully still has a working camera pointed towards the back of the yard. What I saw angered and scared me at the same time. Evidently when Cindy saw the coyote it was coming back for round two. It had already been in and out of the chicken yard in less than 10 seconds, snatching Georgie and clearing the two four foot fences on it’s way out. In no more than 5 minutes it was coming back to try to grab another hen. Thank goodness Cindy at least stopped a second attack from happening.
This happened mid-afternoon which is very unusual. Coyotes are normally nocturnal hunters unless it is a female looking for food for it’s babies. The two other birds we lost to coyotes (more on that in a bit) happened early in the morning. This was a very unusual time for a coyote to be out there. When I saw the attack it was scary just how trivial clearing the four foot fence was for the animal, even with poor Georgie in it’s mouth.
This attack ironically gave clarity to what happened to Stephie when we lost her over a year ago. I came out in the morning to do the coop and she had simply vanished. I thought the lack of feathers and/or blood meant that it could not have been a coyote attack. However if I did not have the DVR working on Saturday we would have no trace of Georgie either as there was no evidence otherwise. The coyote was like a surgeon, in and out of there in no time.
So I had an odd reaction to losing Georgie. I didn’t cry like is normal when we lose a hen, I instead found myself more consumed by anger, guilt and anxiety. The fact that the coyote came back scarcely 5 minutes after taking the first bird was very worrisome. We decided it was not safe for the hens to be outside of the run so we coaxed them all back in there, to their dismay. My mind was racing to come up with some sort of viable solution to the problem. I looked online and found a site called deerbusters.com.
They sell fence extensions that are targeted at keeping deer out but coyotes are mentioned as well. They secure to your existing fence posts to add extra height to stop animals with extreme vertical leaps from getting into a fenced area. It is an expensive solution. I spent near 1K for a kit that will add four feet of height to our chicken fence. Some coyotes can supposedly clear a six foot fence but they definitely are not going to clear eight. Without even chewing on the price for a second I ordered three of the 100 foot kits hoping they will offer us permanent piece of mind.
So now my concern turned to what to do for the chickens until the fence extensions show up. Keeping them locked up in their chicken run all day would be pretty miserable for them. Of course it is better than them getting picked off by coyotes but I still hated the idea of them losing all freedom. Sunday morning I pulled the portable run from the chicken tractor around to the front and placed it in front of the automatic chicken door so they could at least venture out onto the grass if they wanted to. However I had loose ideas about expanding that protected space temporarily.
I headed to Home Depot to pick up some supplies. I just sort of grabbed a bunch of stuff, not quite sure how I would put it all together yet confident I could make something out of it.
The first part of the plan was to install a back door into the existing chicken run. I wanted to be able to utilize the more open space behind the coop. With the help of Cindy we built a nice opening complete with a a locking door. It was very frustrating working conditions because a good portion of the day was off and on torrential rain. I was trying to get the stuff built without getting absolutely soaked. For long periods of time I was just standing in the chicken run, with the chickens waiting for the rain to let up.
After the rear door was complete Cindy headed inside but I continued my work building a Frankenstein like 8 foot tunnel that lead to the side door of the chicken tractor. The tunnel was built with it’s temporary status in mind, I just threw stuff together to give the chickens a safe albeit ugly way to get into the back yard. The design will get some additional tweaking but by the time I called it quits Sunday afternoon I was just mentally drained.
I allowed the chickens to be loose while I was doing the work as I figured I would be their security guard. However the image of the coyote being in and out of there so quickly made me very nervous that it could come back and steal another hen while my back was turned. I was constantly stopping and surveying the back yard.
When we got the solar panels installed we both thought an unintended side benefit was it would make the chicken area less visible from the back of the property which might be good. Well obviously the coyote still figured out where the chickens were and the downside was now MY vision to the back fence line was blocked and I wouldn’t be able to see a coyote until it was right at the chicken fence line. It piled more stress and frustration onto the already sizeable pile I was feeling.
When I reentered the house I was beat up. Lugging around construction materials and spending a lot of time on my shitty knees was a recipe for limp resumption. The rest of the day I just felt whatever my version of depressed was. There have been a lot of shitty situations in the world as well going on around me lately in my personal circle, several of which make my chicken security problems and physical aches and pains seem like blips on a radar. The combination of it seemed to roll in with an over arcing feeling that there were lots of undone things that need my attention. It all just left me feeling what felt like my version of depressed, which isn’t something I encounter very often. I’m usually too busy to worry about it.
There of course were some bright spots to the weekend. Deb came by Saturday night and the three of us watched Old Guard on Netflix. To be honest it wasn’t as good as I hoped it may be. I’d give it a B. I hopefully have someone coming to buy the old tractor today after work. I am taking a risk as I am holding it for him without any cash. Since he said he wanted to buy it I have turned away at least a half dozen other potential buyers that have expressed interest.
I do find the selling process on any of these online venues aggravating. I listed the Craftsman tractor for $650. I got a ton of messages from people that ask nothing about the tractor, just a stupid low ball offer dollar figure. The lowest was $200. In each case I tell people that I prefer to not negotiate until they at least see the tractor in person.