Another Variant of Devaluation

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Nature sometimes echoes government in that both can suddenly devalue what you thought you had. 

Last Monday, I had a flock of 12 chickens – which gave us plenty of eggs each day for more than just the two of us. The next day, I had three chickens. Some thing – like the Biden Thing – had come along while we slept and devalued what we’d had the evening before. We’re still not sure what it was as it had to have been something pretty big – or perhaps several somethings, like a family of raccoons. Or a bobcat.

Possibly a chupacabra.

We were at a loss – literally as well as psychologically. Nothing could have gotten under the fence that surrounds the run; well, nothing without a backhoe – as the fence wire is buried six inches deep and in concrete. I learned to do that from the last time my flock was devalued by things that dug under the fence – and into the run area. I built the fence five feet high, such that few other things – foxes, coyotes, stray dogs – could leap over it. The flock was safe from them.

But it wasn’t safe from something that got in, regardless.

My mistake was gambling that almost nothing could get in – and so I took the chance of leaving the flock free to let themselves in and out of the coop, according to their own schedule. The ducks, especially, seemed to prefer spending the night in the run rather than in the coop – probably because ducks don’t roost as chickens do. They prefer to nest on the ground and there is more space for them to do that in the run area. So I let them. And lost several of them – along with most of my chickens, too.

Fortunately, we’re not yet dependent upon our flock for food. But what if we had been? All of a sudden and just like that we’d have been reduced from having plenty of eggs – and meat – to precious little of either. Three chickens aren’t enough to provide a wealth of eggs; they are barely enough to provide a sufficiency of them for two people, especially during the cold months – when chickens generally don’t lay as much anyhow. And – per the prepper’s dictum that two equals one and one equals none – should one (or worse, two) of the remaining three die then we’d have less than a sufficiency.

With no ducks to spare, we suddenly no longer had the previous Monday’s option of eating one when we were in the mood for roast duck – as we needed the remainder still quacking in order to propagate and maintain a sufficiency of them.

It was like waking up to find out that the money you thought you had in the bank had been summarily seized by the Biden Thing. Or seized in the less obvious way – via devaluing what it was worth. It amounts to the same thing.

You lost what you assumed you had.

Fortunately, we’re not yet dependent on our flock for food. And fortunately, our neighbors have a flock that’s too big for their needs. From them we acquired “drop in” replacements – adult chickens, preferable vs. chicks because the latter don’t lay until they grow up into chickens and that takes several months. It’s a long time to wait for a wealth of eggs and maybe too long, if things take a turn for the worse on account of the thing shuffle-footing around the Rose Garden.

We are working on the ducks.

And we have learned another hard lesson about the realities of having chickens and ducks and not having them secured from the things that lurk in the night. It is less convenient to have to go out to the coop area around dusk each night and herd the birds into the coop – and then lock the coop up for the night – and then to have to go out each morning as the sun rises, to let them out.

But it does all-but-eliminate the possibility of things getting to them at night. Well, except for one thing.

The thing that walks on two legs.

We considered the possibility as we’re still struck dumb contemplating what other thing could have made off with that many birds. The three ducks we lost each weighed more than 10 pounds. They are big – and heavy – birds. One is enough to feed two people. How many raccoons –  or possums – would one feed? And three? Plus nine chickens? How did whatever-the-thing was get the birds over the fence? There was just one body to be found; otherwise, only a few feathers here and there.

The thought of what it might have been – and could be, in the future – got us to thinking about more than just making sure the birds are locked inside for the night. We are installing cameras for the night. These feed live to our phones and allow us to see without going outside. And if something on two legs is outside, to get ready to deal with it before heading outside.

Coop aside, it is probably a good idea to have cameras outside your place for the same reasons – and for reasons of deterrence. The sight of being watched and not knowing who may be coming to see what they’re up to may cause some two-legged things to try elsewhere.

. . .

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry about your girls Eric. We always close ours in, and let them out. Its the only way to be sure. Over the years of chicken wrangling we’ve lost birds to coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, owls, and hawks. The only thing deliberate enough to make multiple snatch and grabs in one evening is possibly a bobcat taking the food back and forth to its young. If it was a family of dirty coons I’d think there would be blood everywhere.
    I’ve seen both coons and cats easily climb tall fences made of chain link, or chicken wire.

    At the end of the day, its probably some shitbag, stealing them for his own flock, probably to lazy or shiftless to raise his own. Petty crime is on the rise everywhere in AZ. It would be easy to blame the new arrivals, but it seems deeper than that. If the spot-n-steal brigade haven’t made it to your redoubt, rest assured, unless you are at the end of of a one way, ten mile, dead end dirt road, they’re coming.

  2. Sorry Eric. Happened to me too and my coop was fort knox, and I locked them up every night, etc… but a bear was no match for my, what I though was sturdy, metal fence. He/she bent it like a pretzel on two different sides trying to get in. The fence had a full 4 sided metal frame too. Claw marks in the back of the coop too where the poor chickens were trying to get out of the way. Nothing left, not a foot or beak, I was surprised, and I looked all over too.
    I did have racoons climb the fence though on a prior occasion, but I covered the top with chicken wire and that stopped the racoons, but not the bear.
    Had a somewhat funny incident when I had a game cam running, and the racoon was inside the fence looking out at a fox outside the fence, facing each other. “how’d you get in there dude?” “hey man, I can climb better than you, sucks to be you, these chickens are yummy”

    • Ha! Yah, funny story at the end.
      I’m surprised that chicken wire stopped raccoons, it’s not really a raccoon barrier. Hardware cloth barely is.

      …I can’t even imagine living in bear country. It’s bad enough wondering if their tiny murderous mini-me relatives, the weasels, will hit me up someday. I say, ‘murderous’ because they do seem to kill for fun & do things like kill ’em all & then line their victims up in a line, …warmongering things like that. It blows my mind a bit that they do that.
      My coop is weasel-proof, my run, is not.

      • I didn’t know that, but I put a double layer of chicken wire over the top, and no problems.
        As for bear country, black bears are not a big problem 99.9% of the time. Just respect that they are big and wild animals.
        Many encounters with them, all turned out fine except for the chicken issue. Had a very late winter and when they came out there was no food, and I guess why the chickens became the food.
        Two encounters stick out. One when walking my Dobie and we got startled with a momma and her cub on our trail. My dog paused, and the cub took off, and of course my dog chased. I thought I’d never see her again. I backed off slowly and an hour later my dog came back with her chest stuck out “I saved you dad”. That dog was amazing and gave blood curtling barks to chase off any bears that got near the house, even treed one (that I saw).
        Second one was while I was hunting X and sitting in a chair, adn one came right at me. I didn’t know what to do, so the wind was in my favor and I stayed quiet and she/he walked about 20 ft from me and never even showed any indication that she saw me. So I now had and escape route and yelled at the bear. The funniest thing happened. It cried like a young girl, high pitched scream, ran 100 yards fast, stopped and stood up looking at me to see what the hell scared it. I couldn’t believe it.

  3. Sorry to hear about it. Was there a secure lock on the coop (as stupid as that sounds) or any signs of forced entry you did not mention? If it were animals you’d think there would have been feathers everywhere after an animal attack.

  4. Perhaps a chupapollo (chicken sucker)? Sorry to hear that, man. I’ve only had problems with my chickens killing themselves, so far.

  5. I suspect your critter problem is of the two legged, possibly not born-in USA type. I’ve heard ranchers, farmers, etc. complain that their livestock had started disappearing when the migrants moved in. Are there any areas of new migrants near you?

    Are there any signs of an animal doing this like chicken feet somewhere or some other chicken/duck body part left behind like feathers after being devoured in a safer location for the predator?

    Cameras good. I would treat this situation as condition change (Col. Jeff Cooper) from white to yellow. You now should be a little more aware of any oddities in noise, etc and should keep a firearm handier than you usually do unless you are armed at all times already no matter what.

    Thankfully you have wonderful human beings for neighbors. But if what I think happened to you, then it may happen to them. Four is one, three is none it appears.

    • I read an article awhile back about a horse being butchered by some two-legged bandits in its corral in the middle of the night. It was a prize show horse, but I guess that made no difference to whoever had a hankering for fresh horse meat. A sad day when you can’t leave a horse outside.
      In my neighborhood, they started a community garden and made a huge deal out of it because gardening is hard in the suburbs with HOAs everywhere. But no one participates anymore because people would steal everything before the gardener could harvest.

  6. Wow. Sorry to hear that. There is a possibility some of the missing birds freaked out when one was attacked, escaped somehow, and might return. Let’s hope.

    My daughter is responsible for putting our ducks in the coop at night and opening it up in the morning. Every day. It’s known as “duck time” and changes with the seasons. It is demanding but was agreed to upon getting the birds.

    We have 3 run chambers. The first with the coop is double fenced & fence roofed (with bird netting because small birds will eat the duck food if they get in) and known as the “citadel” run. It is locked at all times with a padlock. The birds can enter and exit to the next run through a small door that is locked at night. The next run is single fenced & fence roofed for daytime use. Keeps out predators, including dogs, cats, and hawks and the like. It’s entrance is padlocked for when we’re all out. The third run is fenced with no roof and the birds are allowed in there only when someone is home.

  7. Three 10+ pound ducks? Holy crap. Bears do that around here but bears aren’t subtle about smashing the enclosure and would have eaten them in place.

    The one you found dead, what sort of wounds did it have? Inside or outside the fence? Partially consumed?

    And a 5′ fence unfortunately won’t keep much out. Motivated yotes and bobcats can clear or climb that. What they can’t do is jump or climb back out with multiple 10+ pound bodies.

    • Hi David,

      Yup – live (and learn). The cameras are going up this week and in the meanwhile, much greater vigilance and locking up at dusk until dawn. I probably ought to have built the fence seven feet high (so I could walk in under it comfortably) and netted it across the top, too. Might have to do that now – ex post facto.

    • Hi X,

      Done both, already!

      The cameras are pretty cool; wide-angle with a magnetic mount and wireless feed to the sail fawn. I may post some videos if I get some good ones!

      • It’s a trade off like a lot of tech but you should think very carefully about installing cameras on your property. Especially anything that is goin through the internets to your sail fawn and such. As you know, someone could easily “hack” them to watch YOUR comings and goings. I lot of people I know have installed things like Ring and Nest cameras in and around their homes. Then it’s like, oh, thanks for bringing my trash can back to the house from the curb. Um… how’d ya know it was me? Ohhhh… right… These people are erecting the street by street surveillance architecture for the tyrants.

      • One possibility that has not been mentioned is that birds of prey, like owls, hawks, and falcons, are making off with your poultry. Owls in particular would explain the ability to get over your fence at night.

        They could easily do it with chicks and smaller birds, but the ten-pounders would be a bit more difficult. On the other hand, even for a human to make off with several 10-pound birds wouldn’t be very easy, either (unless it was several humans).

        It it is a predator of any kind attacking your fowl, though, I would expect to see some feathers and maybe a little bit of blood.

        It will be interesting to see what your cameras reveal…

  8. Oh! That is terrible news, Eric! I’ve learned that losing a bird or two once in a while is inevitable if you want to let them live at all naturally- but to lose so many at once is devastating, and not the norm.

    The thief wasn’t a dog or coyote or anything like that, or you would have heard a large commotion. Pretty much any varmint that was there long enough to do such decimation (as opposed to just grabbing one random bird and running) would have caused the birds to make a commotion, and there would have been signs of destruction around it’s point of access, since your coop is pretty secure.

    The only two things that come to mind are: a)Thieves of the two-legged variety. (In which case, given your locale and all, it would likely be someone known to you- and acquaintance or neighbor or ‘friend’)…or, since the top of your run is not covered: Hawks or owls or other such predator birds; they swoop in and just clutch and go…and therefore don’t cause the birdies to make the commotion that they would make if being threatened and slaughtered by varmints.

  9. Once a dog tastes blood…it will not stop.
    I would rather eat chickens than dogs…
    Solution: dog has to go either “rehomed” with someone in an urban area or .22

  10. So sorry to hear that Eric,
    I installed a baby monitor in my garage to keep an eye on the cat who lived there, as the occasional raccoon would get in. It has the advantage of sound as well as night vision, only problem would be shielding it from rain if it’s mounted outdoors.

  11. If the run is open to the sky predators WILL get in. Fence it all up. Traps are good for dealing with night critters. I’ve had plenty of coon or possum stews for the price of a chicken bone baling wired to the cage…and a 22 long. In a holodomor situation I’d wake early and wait for the deer to graze at the greens patch for a feast!

  12. I bet it was a coyote. I saw one chase my cat once and clawed over a 6.5-foot-tall fence like it was nothing.

    If it were Biden people, they would have taken your catalytic converter first off your vehicle before even thinking bout chickens or ducks.

  13. I can’t speak about chickens. However the govt does and is devalueing our money consistantly and constantly. I think it is the real reason for goods and services costing more, the main reason really. I am amazed most people don’t recognize this.

  14. Maybe a two-legged varmit (the Snuffy Smith type) is a good possibility. My wife before I met her had 3 ducks and a sheep stolen by a local thief. Cameras as well as a shotgun with rock salt loaded shells would be a good idea!

    • Allen,
      Rock salt in lawsuit land is a bad idea. Either scare ’em off, hold them for the fuzz or Shoot Shovel Shutup.

  15. A badger? They know how to dig. A wolverine? Dogs? Might be. Four fox will clean the place out in no time.

    My uncle had some sheep, the neighbor ten miles away had dogs, they traveled the distance and did some serious damage to the small herd. He wasn’t happy and shot the dogs.

    Any stray dog out in the country has to be considered dangerous and possibly rabid. They get shot.

    Visited a farm to buy some seed potatoes one fall, there were chickens in the farmyard running free and wild, my dog escaped from the car, made a bee-line to a chicken and immediately killed the poor chicken, didn’t have a chance. He then headed for the chicken coop to kill more chickens, had to corner him to make it stop. I paid five dollars for the chicken in addition to the amount paid for the potatoes. The woman at the farm had some supper.

    Build a small coop on stilts, make the floor poultry netting about three feet off the ground. The droppings will fall through and a clean-up can be done easily. Doors to get to the inside for maintenance and egg harvesting, maybe a dozen boxes, one egg in each box per day. You can let the eggs hatch, more chickens.

    Skirt the lower three feet during winter.

    You pick out one chicken, corner the thing, do a swift hand move to grab the chicken’s legs, the chicken is now a broiler. You say a prayer at the supper table thanking the Lord for the sustenance.

    Crocodile tears for the chicken.

  16. No chickens here, but my wife has a medical license along with a sincere desire to help people, which has caused us no end of trouble with individuals who take advantage of that combination. Once the two legged predators get a taste of “free”, they never want to give that up, even when they have the means to compensate for the services.

  17. After all, the Fed Gov is a predator too. I’m suspicious your bird predator was of the two legged variety as well. Could have been a bobcat, taking them over the fence one at a time. I have seen dogs climb a fence. A handful of dogs or coyotes could be the culprit. Anything bigger, like a bear, would have torn up the fence. Such is a risk of being prepared. You become a target for those who aren’t.

    • I am so sorry, Eric. This is heartbreaking to read. We all grow attached to our pets and it is devastating when something happens to them especially when we have no answers to what occurred. I would be a bit surprised if a human would be ballsy enough to venture into somebody’s backyard at night. If the coop is far from the house, possibly, but in the mountains a chicken hawk or owl are quite stealth. A human being would likely take all of the birds. I would think a pack of coyotes or a bobcat would be too noisy and the herd could be heard after the first one or two was taken. The eyes from the sky are a bit more worrisome to me. It is likely the larger duck may not have been flown too far since he weighed so much.

      Cameras are a wise investment. Also, Lowes have these bells that you can attach near the coop and it will ring in the house each time someone or something crosses it. They run about $50 and I advise anyone with or without pets to put on in their driveway. It will alert you if someone is driving or walking on your property. Just an FYI they are PITA when it is windy out, but you can turn it off from the house and then turn it back on.

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