Last Friday, August 2, we went to the Frederick County (VA) fair. The kids and I met Ghon in a shopping center near the fairgrounds and we headed out together in Ghon's truck. The kids had a good time seeing the goats, sheep, cows, a few pigs, and of course, the rabbits and chickens.
The grandstand was featuring a rodeo, so after Ghon and I grabbed dinner, we sat in the stands to watch a bit of the rodeo. We were able to watch a few rounds of steer roping and goat tying. The kids were a little restless, and all Jonathan cared about was getting to the rides. Fortunately, it was ride all night for one price. For the first time, I bought the kids wrist bands to do just that. There were a few things Genevieve was still too small to do, but she still had a good time. Jonathan had a blast, and rode his first roller coaster. When he came off the ride, he told me it was "Fantastic!" After trying out a few more rides, he was able to take a second turn.
It was a late night; we just about closed down the fair. Saturday was coming way too quickly and ended up being way to rainy. Genevieve still woke up early, and Jonathan slept in. Aly came over to watch the kids while Ghon and I headed out to tractor shop.
When we got home, Ghon headed right back out to work at the farm with our friend Tim. They did some tree work at the far end of the property along the power lines. Since it was raining so hard, the kids and I did our usual grocery shopping before heading to the farm. We decided to have lunch there, then while the kids watched a movie, I would work on cleaning up the dining room.
Since it was raining, I decided to let the kids to have lunch in the "safe room" while they watched a movie. When I went upstairs, I was angry...the kids left a juice pouch in the room the last time they were there. There were a few tiny holes the juice pouch and mouse droppings all over their blanket and around the pouch. I hate mice! After I cleaned that up, I had lunch with the kids and headed downstairs to work.
The dining room was getting difficult to navigate from furniture here, there, and everywhere. There were nails and screws on the floor, and plenty of drywall and insulation. Just like the kitchen, I made it my mission to clean up the mess and make it easier to navigate and remove the dirt and trash.
Ghon and Tim came in from the rain and tried to plan next attacks for making progress at the house and finally had their lunch. Once I had the floor cleaned up, Ghon grabbed a small hand sander he found and tried sanding the dining room floor with minimal success. Didn't take long before we headed home after that. Rain stinks. I did have to laugh; Jonathan is always bugging us to do inside work, and now that we were inside, all he asked for was to work outside.
Ghon had off work on Monday (8/5/13) and spent some time reinforcing the chicken coop and constructing a new run. We had lost a few more chickens Sunday night. After attempting to further secure the run, and ordering a motor to automatically close the coop door at night, he also set a number of traps in the yard, one right by the coop. Tuesday before work, he stopped by and found success! He caught a raccoon in one of the leg traps. That makes two raccoons and a fox that we've removed from the situation. Unfortunately, there must be more in the area, as we had a few more casualties Wednesday night.
On my way home from work, I stopped to buy more raccoon bait, also known as chicken flavored cat food. I set three of the live traps. One by our meat birds, that should be leaving this weekend, one by the spot we caught the last raccoon, and one in the tall grass. I tried to think like Ghon, and looked for tracks. I couldn't find any, but thought the grass looked a little matted down. I'm hoping it's the path the suckers take to the coop, so I set another trap there.
When we've lost chickens, we've usually LOST them. Like, they are completely GONE. The last few times, we've found some parts, mainly a wing or a foot, left behind in the coop. I had been thinking about how anything could be getting into the coop. We don't have a door on the coop from the run, but Monday, Ghon had really secured the opening and the run. It looks kind of ridiculous, but we thought would do the trick. Somehow, they still got in.
Tonight, I think I figured it out. Raccoons can climb. I tried to figure out if there was a way that they could be climbing INTO the coop. On the sides of the coop, between the roof and two sides, there is an opening in the rafters. I wondered if that was how they were getting in. I did a little more investigation, and sure enough. I found foot prints. Foot prints. On the SIDE of the coop. It had to be how they were coming out - through the opening in the rafters, then down the side before jumping the rest of the way.
I must say, I am a little shocked and impressed with myself that I figured this out. Ghon is working a closing shift tonight, so I sent him a message to let him know what I thought - and he agrees. My fear now, is that he removed a lot of loose lumber from the inside of the coop - that I fear the raccoons may have used to climb up on their way out. If so, and they get in, I'm not sure how they will get out - or how many chickens they will eliminate while stuck inside.
Say a little prayer for the hens....