The weather is getting nicer with the arrival of spring, which also brings the arrival of local predators.
Generally I try to lock up my chickens just after the sun sets. However, by the time I finish cooking and eating dinner, I look up it is already pitch black outside and the coop door is wide open. A flood light in the yard has done a great job of deterring predators since we got our chickens, but we had an unexpected visitor the other night.
My husband had just finished putting my oldest son to bed, and he headed out the door to lock up the chickens. Getting ready to open the back door, he watches as 4 of my 5 chickens walk out of the coop and stand a few feet away as a possum waltzes in. Luckily, this possum was not in a vicious mood (other possums I have come across have been quite defensive). Taking a 2×4, my husband gently nudged the possum out of the corner of the coop. He asked me to go take a look at it in case it was sick (it was just playing possum).
I got outside and followed the footprints around through the snow just to make sure he/she wasn’t still nearby. This possum was determined to bed down somewhere because the footprints went all around our 4 car garage before coming back to the coop. After being evicted, the footprints led out to the pasture and into the tall grass.
I convinced the girls outside that their coop was empty, and found one Marge in the nesting box. I’m just happy none of the girls were hurt during this, but we now make sure we don’t leave the coop open after dark.
For tips on protecting your flock from predators, check out the learning center at www.backyardchickens.com.