Today I had a lovely day today out for a playdate and lunch and with some friends and their kids. That was until I got home, opened the gate and saw the telltale mark of Mr Fox, feathers everywhere.
We've not had a good time of it with the chooks recently, just 6 months ago we had 11 and now I'm down to 4. One got ran down in the lane, one was egg bound, one ex-bat was poorly and disappeared, one ex-bat was so ill I asked our neighbour to finish her off as it was a Sunday and I couldn't go to the vets. I'm quite soft really, I've never seen anyone kill poultry and I just don't think that the first time we try it should be without instruction, it's just not fair to the bird.
A few red hens just disappeared and unfortunately when I found the trail of Molly's feathers today I could see where she'd been dragged through the fence behind the compost and there were piles of red feathers that I hadn't found last time one went missing.
Molly was a white Sussex and I've found them to have great personalities. She was the loudest clucker and I was always telling her to quiet down when I was giving the girls their daily corn feed.
I've always been a believer in letting them free range as much as possible, I want their lives to be as good as can be, but I've got to temper that with actually letting them have a decent amount of time too. We have an electric fence enclosure to keep them safe at night but I think I'll have to buy another length of fence and make a larger enclosure for them to live in during the day too.
I don't feel too resentful towards the fox, I know they are only doing what comes naturally to them, but once they know where to get the easy pickings they'll be back. The same fox finished all of our next door neighbours flock off so it was only a matter of time. If I find someone who'll shoot him I'm afraid I'll take them up on the offer to protect my girls. I understand that is contentious to some people but when you're attached to your flock you want to protect them from being picked off.
Anyway, it's a sad end to the day when you're clearing the lawn of feathers but I know Molly and all her other departed flock members have had an excellent life with us and it means a lot to me.
As you can see they get up to all sorts of mischief. Once I've got them secured I'll go off to Newland poultry and get some more girls to join the flock. The chickens are always in excellent condition and they're really helpful if you need advice, not to mention they have everything you could need in their shop. I also feel that where possible we should try and buy locally, it's good for the local economy and the environment.
I've had ex-battery before and I will again, but they die so soon, their lives are just so wretched that it seems to take all their reserves and any little thing finishes them. That's the main reason for never buying caged hens eggs, before we had the girls I always bought organic free range as they have the largest minimum space per bird allowed. If you saw how caged birds were kept it would take the most hardened person to buy their eggs.
So, world put to rights, goodbye Molly, we'll miss you.