We had another night of severe storms, with forecasted winds of up to 55 mph. After the chicken tractor went aloft in the last windstorm, we modified it by shortening the tarp providing shade and cover on top; the result was that less than a quarter of it remained covered. There’s no way that thing could take off again.
Wrong. We were using it to house our “extra” roosters, and were flabbergasted this morning to realize that it had moved several feet from its original location. Of the original 10, only 1 cockerel remained inside. When we went looking for the others, it became clear from the body count that something, either a coyote or fox, had massacred the cockerels that had escaped when the tractor was lifted by the wind. A couple of them had been eaten, but most had just been killed and left where they lay. We didn’t find a couple, but the piles of feathers is a clear clue that they were likely victims of the predator, too.
Naturally, we were all set to process them this week, even getting our propane tank filled yesterday, and now this. [insert expletives here]
Wild animals suffered losses in the storm, too – sadly, we found a fledgling robin dead near the chicken coop, apparently blown out of its nest. Unbelievably, a rabbit tractor had also been completely flipped over…even though it had been on a hillside and should have had more protection from the wind. Raylan (yep, named for that character) was just patiently sitting on the corrugated metal roof, which had become the floor of the tractor. His housing bin, food dish, and water crock had all been tossed about. Luckily, he was unhurt and, with the wire floor of the tractor above him, remained safe from the predators that had decimated the cockerels.
We temporarily put Raylan in the divided tractor with Sirius for a roommate, carried the (heavy) tractor up the hill, and hosed it out. The metal roof took the brunt of the damage, looking pretty banged-up in some places, but it’s still sound and serviceable. The tractors aren’t meant to roll..!
In other rabbit news, Loretta finally did kindle last night. She had ten healthy kits, but she had them on the cage floor instead of her nest box and one somehow got its head crushed under the metal nest box and was deceased when we discovered it – very strange, since it would have required the box to be lifted and then lowered back down onto the hapless kit’s head. In the darkness, Loretta could have picked it up with her teeth and dropped it without knowing the kit was there. Another kit had crawled away from the main group and while still alive, was cold. We removed the dead kit and put the rest into the nest box along with the fur Loretta had pulled.
She’s been acting strangely with this pregnancy – when we put the nest box in, she proceeded to pull all the straw out and throw it around her cage. She did it repeatedly after we refilled the box, so we had a sneaking suspicion she might not use it. With her last (first) kindling, she made her nest box up nicely and had her kits in it without incident, so this situation is perplexing. It’s a shame the kit died – it was large and appeared perfectly healthy. Maybe this incident was an anomaly, but we’ll be watching her closely in future kindlings.
These kinds of dramas are enough to make your head spin…but you just have to focus on the animals that survived, rather than how many you lost, and go on with the daily farm routine. Animals being born, animals dying – the cycle of life. It’s impossible to make sense of every negative thing that happens, and you’d make yourself crazy trying. We’re thankful that Raylan survived the tractor overturning; that one red cockerel was trapped in the chicken tractor and is still alive because of it; that Loretta still has nine live kits; and that the power – while it flicked out briefly – stayed on so the duck eggs could continue developing in the incubator.
Mettle tested. Tomorrow will be a new and better day.