I have never had a real predator problem before, but Dooley the dog pointed out the other day that something may have been trying to dig under the fence in the chicken yard. My chicken wire fence flares outward at the bottom and I have about 6” underground to deter unlawful entry. To prevent "climb overs" there is an extra two feet of unsupported wire at top of the fence which bows outward and flexes to the point that an animal trying to climb over the fence becomes unstable and drops off (in theory). Thankfully, it worked this time. Even though it may have been just a possum with no malicious intent it was obvious we would have to take further steps to protect the chickens.
I thought about putting one or two of the goats in the chicken yard at night as a deterrent but the chickens voted against it claiming the goats frequently told vulgar chicken jokes and sharing the yard would not be a viable solution for them. Dooley suggested we arm the chickens but we quickly realized they may end up shooting the goats. The easy answer was to put Dooley outside at night on guard duty. After further consideration I succumbed to the fear that Dooley may instinctively engage the enemy. The thought of Dooley tangling with a rabid raccoon, fox or bobcat would have kept me up all night every night. If he were a bigger dog perhaps…..
After several Swisher Sweet Double Barrel Rum Outlaw Cigars and after rejecting ideas like a brick enclosure with barbed wire coils on top, bringing the chickens into the cabin at night, and the goat’s idea of inviting the neighbors over for a chicken barbeque we finally decided on a sound activated alarm system.
We went to the grocery/hardware/feed store in town and got fifty feet of 1- 1/2” PVC pipe and four elbows. Starting with a 2 foot vertical piece topped with an elbow (pointing towards the coop) we ran the pipe underground from the chicken yard, under the cabin and up through the floor right next to Dooley’s Indian sleeping blanket. Any disturbance in the chicken yard would be transmitted through the pipe, wake Dooley up, he would wake me up and we’d both go out and eliminate the threat with extreme prejudice.
Two nights later the “alarm” went off and we quickly discovered a raiding party of raccoons attempting entrance into the yard. For you city folk, the raccoon will reach into a coop and pull the legs and heads off of unsuspecting chickens. They are nasty dudes. Dooley reminded me that it was my idea to lure a raccoon into the area last month with a bag of scraps just for entertainment purposes (see blog post “Idle Minds” for details). Lesson learned.
As a note, the sound activated alarm is still in place but we had to make a few modifications. We put a piece of screen over the end at the chicken yard to keep mice out (mice get extra hungry in the winter), and we added two more elbows and two 3 inch pieces of pipe at the chicken end to keep rain from entering the system. We also got a removable cap that we put over the cabin end of the pipe to eliminate chicken noises in the cabin during the day.
Dooley wanted me to mention that there is a patent pending on our alarm system but we are willing issue a limited use license for a small fee or a really good piece of apple pie.
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