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“Endless” fields of snow

After I realize that our new hobby farm lives under 1 to 2 feet of snow with up to 4 foot drifts in the winter, I had to move my small mobile chicken coop.  I had photos on the move, but I have one word to say, Blackphone (to be replaced very soon). Anyway, effectively what I did was try to move the chicken coop, by hand with (at the time) in about 6” of snow on the ground. No good, you are dragging it. Thus what I did was hook up the chicken coop with straps and then, drop my truck into 4×4 and drag the coop through the snow. That got it done.

I put the entire mobile coop into one of the unused horse stables. I thought that was a good plan. The chickens were out of the snow; they had a little space to move around. I put down fresh hay and put a heat lamp out. I even got a water heat pad. Moving well right?  Wrong.

We are out searching for the predator in 2 feet of snow

Well, during the weeks the kids usually go out and pick up eggs and feed and water the chickens . Good chores for any child growing up. On the weekend, I go out to check on everything to ensure it is ok, and what do I see? Far, far fewer chickens than expected! I asked the kids, where are the chickens? They looked at me in that “idunno” stupefied face. I was less than happy, I mean can’t you see what I can see there are fewer chickens? When we checked around the front and back of the stable, there were only nine chickens out of 14 (one just went away earlier).

Chickens in happier (alive) times

Daddy was even “less happy” than before. Thus we have a predator problem, but what to do about it? Many predators hunt at night.  I say, ok, we are going to lock the chickens into their coop every night and close the coop door. That way they are safe at night. Ok, good plan. In the day the chickens have the run of the stable, at night we collect them, and count them and secure them into their coop.  The mobile coop is very secure (and heavy).  Next morning before we are off to school, we let them out.

Three days later, eight chickens. Daddy is now far, far away from the state of happiness. Some may suggest he is downright pissed. However, my focus has turned from my children to what the **** is eating my flock.

Thus I have an emergency. First I sit out at night, but then realize that something is coming around during the day to eat the chickens.  I work during the day and cannot sit around guarding the chicken coop, and we don’t have a clear sight of the stable from inside the house.  Even sitting out at night I don’t have a clear shot of the ground level and it is 0 degrees Fahrenheit out at night.  The stable is not predator proof (space to move under it).  I never thought to use it for the chickens and had not done any work, and it is under about 3 feet of snow.

I took a picture of scat because guys who know what they are doing often ask me what it looks like

Thus what I do is spread some hay and move the chickens inside my shop. I build a small enclosure to keep them in a limited space. It is not what we want, nor what we like, but it is better than all of the chickens being gone. Simply put, this winter is one of the harshest in many years.  It is not over so we don’t have the numbers but a lot of the locals have said they have not seen this much snow in 14 years or longer.  Remember in reality winter doesn’t officially start until Christmas (21DEC), and it is over on Easter (16APR).  No matter, still need to build a winter chicken enclosure before next year.  [Bard Note:  Also remember splitting wood is a Lenten task.  Wood is to be harvested, split and stacked for the next winter by Easter]. 

Tracks, I had more photos but lost them

Any way, this hard winter means we could not access most of our land without snowshoes or snowmobiles. We do not have either. Anyway, trying to do that in the winter, without a tractor clearing a path is not … optimal.  Thus I am trying to make due with what we have.  Hopefully the Lord and the Infant Jesus of Prague will continue to bless us so we can get some needed stuff.  Obviously, we need to build a winter chicken coop that is out of the way, but close to the driveway. However, I also have another question that perhaps you can help me. After much dragging through the snow, I finally found tracks and scat that I do not recognize. Anyone have any idea what these tracks are? Thanks.