I had to buy eggs today. It's the first time in like five years because we always had our own chickens. Even when we were poor-starving-college-students we had a few hens that provided "golden" eggs. Moving to the ranch only meant more eggs for us because when you have 18 hens and three families the eggs get shared around fast.
But it seems that every fall we have some sort of chicken drama. It was this time a year ago that the calves found their way into the chicken coop and scattered those crazy chickens all over the ranch yard. We spent all day gathering up those darn critters to try and keep them from the drooling dog that stalked them from the shed to the shop to the tractor... This year, though, we couldn't save them from such an end.
Yep, you heard right. The chickens are gone, dead, no longer laying eggs! Fortunately for the dog, he wasn't the one to get them (I'm pretty sure he would be done for too!) and it wasn't because the calves crashed down the door. The intruder was much more stealthy- coming in the night and nabbing a few at a time. After the first couple nights of losing a few hens we guessed there was a weasel or racoon that had tunneled into the coop and moved the hens.
But it didn't stop that ninja critter.
We tried to get one step ahead of the hunter to save the few chickens we had left- the four remaining chickens. We put them in the horse trailer and left them there for days. The Ranch Boss set traps hoping to nab the intruder and let us feel safe to put the chickies back. But we never caught him. For weeks we didn't catch him. By this point we figured he had gotten frustrated and moved on.
So we put the chickens back. They were happy and we were happy to have the few eggs they were laying. The kids and I were stalwart in doing the nightly egg gather and chicken lock up, always careful make sure there was no way a chicken could escape or a creeper to get in.
But one morning we heard the bad news- the last of the chickens had been attacked and killed. We felt defeated. We lost all 18 chickens. And all this boiled down to one conclusion- no more fresh eggs.
To appease your curiosity, we did find what got the chickens. There was a mink that had escaped the mink farm in town and trekked down to our chicken coop.
Now we know that we need to beef up our chicken coop to prevent any unwelcome visitors for getting their dinner. And until next spring when the next batch of chickens comes in we will buy eggs, coloring eggs as The Rancher's Sidekick calls them (apparently white store eggs have only one purpose!).