I'm not sure where to begin. There are times when I suppose all farmers feel like farming is handing them their ass. This month could certainly count as that for me. Six months ago predators killed our egg laying chickens and after a few months of reflecting, we ordered more through the mail. Determined to protect these new pets, we built what neighbors and friends have jokingly referred to as "Chicken Fort Knox." We encirlced a portion of the macadamia grove with six foot coyote proof fencing, and then electrified the whole thing for good measure. Every one of us here at one time or another has made the mistake of leaning against the fencing and gotten blasted. There's a reason an electrical jolt is called a "shock." It truly is shocking; as in mometarily enducing tears. Don't let the little solar powered gizmo that sends the power into this fence fool you. It means business. So I guess we were fairly confident of our chickens' safety.
We planned to offer eggs for sale as soon as our chickens reached egg laying age and our software program was up and running. Just a few short weeks from our egg selling launch, a neighbor's dog cleverly tunneled under the fencing far enough back, and deep enough into the soil, to avoid the electrical charge. We had over a 100 chickens and one very friendly turkey pet. My son Frankie discovered most of his birds torn asunder the following morning during his routine early morning chores. Not content to just kill and eat a chicken or two, the offending dog clearly went into a frenzy and killed everything he could catch. Our turkey, Tom, probably tried to protect "his" chickens and lost his life as well. A senseless loss of life, my almost grown-up son tried to hide the carnage from me; as I was already having a difficult week. An hour later, when I drove the kids to school, down the hill and past the chicken barn, I remarked that there sure were a lot of feathers laying around. "Molting mom, chickens molt in the heat, you know," Frankie replied.
I'm saddened by the loss, and chagrined at the cost to safely raise chickens in Rainbow, CA. Now we're securing the surviving chickens in the barn every night rather than letting them roam in their enclosure at night. We've added another line of electricity 6 inches out from the bottom of the fenceline and plan to trench and bury chicken wire to prevent tunneling.
We've ordered new baby chickens and expect their arrival in a week or so, to start the process anew.