Until this morning. We found one dead chicken and the carcass of another. Picked clean.
I looked in the hen house and the two remaining hens were sitting on the highest rung of their roosting ladder. Our beautiful black Andalusian rooster, Lord Byron, was a few rungs down, severely wounded. I don't know if he will make it. Calvin, the other rooster, was making quiet clucking noises from his perch on the nesting boxes. When I opened the door, he went out into the run, spread his wings and crowed for all he was worth.
The two hens that were killed were favorites: Dixie Chick and my last Cuckoo Maran. Plus the wounded rooster, Lord Byron, who is so beautiful and sweet.
I am certain it was the bobcat. Brett has wire panels covering the sides and the top of pen, and chicken wire going partway up the sides. The panels on the side have very small openings; four inches square. On the top, the new panels are also 4" square but there are some older panels with larger openings, 4" x 6". I think the bobcat climbed the side and squeezed through one of those larger openings. It took him a few weeks to find a way in, but he was ultimately successful.
I moved the water bowl into the hen house and waited for Calvin to go back inside. It took awhile, he wandered around in the rain for quite awhile before a thunderclap and heavy downpour drove him back inside. Dixie Chick and the Cuckoo Maran were his hens. I closed the door to the hen house, and the little pop-up door as well.
I don't cry often or easily, but I found myself fighting - and then giving in - to tears. We have worked so hard to keep our chickens safe and I feel like we failed them. Brett feels badly about the larger openings on the top panels; but we both agreed, at the time he installed them, that no animal could get through.
Between the loss of the tree and the loss of the chickens, its been a sad week at Oak Creek Ranch.