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June 13, 2012

What a beautiful surprise! I cleaned up the chard this week. Now you can see the brilliant colors.

It has been an interesting week. Harvesting is just beginning. The weather is up and down, not sure if it will rain or be sunny and warm, and our suspicion of skunks hanging around the house was confirmed.

The (mostly) fava bean pasture for the girls. The beans are getting tall!

We had a surprise Saturday morning when we went out to do our weekly chicken coop clean up. I grabbed one of the water fountains and said good morning to the girls as I walked by the coop run, on my way to wash out the fountain. They were all together at one end of the run; not too unusual. Steven was on his way to let them out of their predator-safe coop and run, into their day pasture. Instead he let them out into the yard, because, surprise!, two skunks were inside the coop run! The skunks were opposite the girls, at the other end of the run, under the coop. Neither were bothering the other. If the girls were upset by the intruders, I didn’t notice. Steven opened the gate out to the day pasture and the larger of the two skunks scooted right out into the pasture, underneath the netting and under one of our sheds. The other skunk, which looked like a baby to us, could not figure out how to get out of the coop run. Since it was under the coop, it was hard to get to, but Steven was eventually able to prod it out. It did attempt to spray him, but not much spray came out. We could only guess it was too young to have fully developed it’s spray equipment. It finally left the coop and ran under the fence into our neighbor’s yard.

An Ameraucana in the fava bean pasture.

There was no sign of forced entry into the coop run. Most likely, the skunks had wandered into the coop run before we closed the gate from the pasture Friday night, and we shut them in. Luckily, skunks don’t usually eat full sized chickens, though we hear they could eat small ones and definitely like eggs. We don’t know for sure if they were living under our shed or somewhere else (at our neighbor’s?). We decided to try to live trap them, regardless. I had no desire to run into skunks in the evening.

The first night, we caught a cat. On the second night we, amazingly, caught both skunks together. Great, but how do you transport them without getting sprayed? Our neighborhood farm store, Linnton Feed & Seed, gave us some tips: walk up to the cage with a tarp in front of you, cover the cage with the tarp and keep it covered until you let them go. If nothing else, the spray won’t go directly on you. Steven got the cage into our pick-up without any spraying, though we could smell the scent by the time we got to their new location and let them go. We’ll put the trap out again, to make sure there aren’t any more skunks hanging around, but I think we’re in pretty good shape now.

One of the Dominiques

As for the girls, they are doing fine. They were curious about that baby skunk, and got as close as they felt safe to watch it, before it found it’s way out of the coop. This event ended well for the girls, but they had a harder winter than usual. I mentioned in a previous post that one chicken died in December. We lost three more by the end of April. Now we are down to six  chickens. We were planning to get some new chicks this year, but with the possibility of a move, we decided to wait.

It was a good week. But, I’ll stick with the beautiful surprises, like the chard pictured above, instead of the smelly, skunk surprises!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eileen Parker permalink
    June 13, 2012 6:22 pm

    The chard is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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