Lady Guinea, bald rump and all, was at least accounted for. All day the chooks had been going about their business, foraging and taking dust baths as usual. Elvis crowed all day, Winona followed us around squawking, just the usual day for a chook on the farm. Or at least we thought.
After wrapping up chores and watching the sunset I went back into the barn only to see ALL of the birds up in the rafters roosting for the night. Crap! After months of them happily living in the coop this one incident terrified them to the point of abandonment. I wasn't about to let them get in that habit, so I took a plastic rake and shooed them out of the barn and rounded 'em up into the coop. They weren't happy about it, but it's better not to get them started on thinking the barn is their new coop.
The next day I went to check the nest boxes for eggs, and to no surprise, no eggs. The hens were either too frightened to lay eggs (which can last for weeks or months), or they were laying elsewhere. This would be harder to crack than the roosting problem. How do you get a hen to start laying in its coop again? No, seriously, how?
That day I found Sassafras, aka Sassy, sitting in the corner of the barn, attempting to lay an egg. I scooped her up and put her in the nest box. She promptly left and laid the egg in the barn later that day. Our other layer laid her egg in the same spot. They're still laying their eggs there over a week later. Hey, at least we know where to pick 'em up.
So we set up a "game cam" to see what was going on. These are cameras that use infrared light to take a picture in the dark. They're very useful on the farm. A lot of animals are highly active at night, so if you want to know what they're up to a game cam is a great way to find out. Also good for home security, etc.
Once the game cam was up we started getting some clues. A big white dog (BWD) was coming to eat our house dog's (Ginger's) food. Sometimes the dog would get in the trash. Previously, I blamed Ginger. Now I knew the truth. Upon examination, it wasn't one of our BWD's. No collar, lanky hips, big neck, too short, too long of hair, and on and on.
The story behind Ginger is that we adopted her with the house. She survived out here on her own for two years with people coming to feed her a couple times per week... if she was lucky. So she knows who to bully and who to cater to. This is probably the dog that Sophie used to chase away when she lived in the yard. Now the dogs are fenced away from the house, protecting the livestock. The smart, stray BWD figured out that it could come back and eat Ginger's food without Sophie chasing it off. I've been debating whether to have a home-protection canine for a while. Another big dog to feed is not at the top of my priority list, although that may change now.
How else to solve this problem? What am I gonna do? Stay out there and try to catch it? Set a freakin' bear trap for it? Shoot it?
When I was a boy my parent's dog was shot by a farmer for getting in his chicken pen. That sucked. For that, and many other reasons, I'm not gonna shoot the dog.
This is the dog that got in the coop. This is why Ginger eats way more food than I think she should. This is why I clean up trash in the lawn. What would you do?