Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coyote troubles

We are having coyote troubles again. It seems to come in cycles.
On Sunday evening when we got home after dark, Larry went to shut the chickens in that are in the south field. (We have two chicken coops in two seperate fields). He found a headless chicken body not far from the coop. By morning some critter (weasel, mink, raccoon, coyote?..) had dragged the body to the south fence line of our property, and had eaten considerably more of it. Seems like it had eaten feathers and all, as usually there are clumps of feathers left on the grass, but not this time.
There are certain breeds of dogs that are called Livestock Guardian Dogs. They usually live with their charges, sheep in particular, and are very good at keeping predators away. Akbash, Maremmas, Anatolian Shepherds are all examples. Some farmers use llamas or donkeys to help protect their sheep.
We use Jake. All 38 lbs of red and white border collie. He hasn't been called in to protect the sheep yet, but he is pretty good at letting us know if something is going on with the chickens. He doesn't do this by instinct, we have inadvertantly trained him. When the chickens would cackle an alarm, we would rush out to see what it was all about. Jake associated the cackling with some excitement on our part, and would join in with barking. Now we don't need to be part of it, the chickens cackle, and Jake barks. Some of the time is a 'I've just laid an egg' kind of cackle, but if the chickens cackle in alarm, and Jake barks, we go running. Hmm, I think Jake has US trained now.
The other day I looked out to see Jake barking and running along the fence between the back lawn and the north field of chickens. I run out and let him into the field. He runs to the property line fence, barking frantically. There hanging upside down on the other side of the fence is a coyote. It's foot is caught between two twisted strands of barb wire at the top of the fence. I stand there, still wearing my slippers, and wonder how to deal with it. Thinking maybe I will have to try get something to pry the strands apart. I call Jake off, and as I watch the coyote struggling, I see it's foot ever so gradually slipping, and finally it is free and runs up our neighbour's field.
I notice a bunch of loose feathers on the ground, and when I check on the other side of the fence where the coyote had been, there are more feathers, and a chicken laid there. She is hurt or stunned, but still alive.

So we decide to do a quick fix, and raise the fence about a foot and a half. As I wander down to the greenhouse to get the loppers to cut some blackberry vines out of the way, I notice the chickens in the other field are cackling, heads up and looking. When I look, there is a coyote in the field in the other side of their fence. So the dogs and I run down to the fence to scare it off. We get the fence line cleared out and another long length of wire stapled up, so the fence is now about 5 1/2 ft high. Hopefully that will do the trick. Two days later the injured hen is still alive, is eating and drinking, but hasn't moved from her corner of the coop. Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Calli!!

Calli is 10 years old today!!
She's looking pretty good:)
To celebrate the day we thought we would go for a walk somehere we hadn't been for a while...
The view is fantastic from the top of the cliff, too bad it was so cloudy
Ha ha, fooled ya...... it was really the clouds reflected in the mighty Fraser:)
Dogs are supposed to be on leash? Oops, must have missed that:)
Passing under the railway tracks. Lots of horses use this trail, and you don't want to be on horseback anywhere near this underpass if there is a train coming.
We found stumps to pose the dogs on...pretty Luna
and handsome Jake.
The birthday girl needed a bigger stump, as she has mobility issues (and that's a whole other post). Thought we had found a good one, but turned out the back half was rotten and Calli started to fall. Larry saved her, but not himself.
We found the perfect throne for the princess to pose on, but one of the commoners didn't like all the attention she was getting, and decided the throne was big enough for two...
The train tracks run right along the river. Before we could actually see it, this train sounded like it was coming straight down the trail at us. I was having a hard time resisting hiding behind a tree
And almost back to the car...
Happy Birthday Calli!!