Everythings seems to be disappearing.
So far this month, we have lost seven chickens, three rows of beet greens, and four rows of rainbow chard. All just gone.
Now, we know that the first three chickens were eaten by foxes, but the second three were flat-out just not there when we closed up the coop one night. Among the second three taken was our beloved Black Copper Marans rooster and all-around ladies man, Tough Guy. We were all quite sidelined by this discovery.
Much has been written (by me) about Tough Guy over the past couple of years, (starting here: http://applewoodfarm.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/the-outcast-roo/) and deservedly so. In many ways, Tough Guy belied his name. He was a lovely rooster, both in demeanor and physicality; he took excellent care of his ladies; he did not crow gratuitously. As roosters go, he was about as good as it gets.
And now he, too, is gone.
And so is one of the orphans.
As a result of the fox attack, our two newest chicks lost their mama and had only one another. They managed quite well together and navigated the farm as a team, nervously zipping away from humans and the bigger chickens, roosting in some tucked-away corner each night, side by side.
But today, only one came home at bedtime.
I can’t help but think that the remaining orphan has seen some serious underbelly-of-life shit in her short time here. No doubt she was present to see her mama eaten and, since the orphans travelled as a pair everywhere they went, there’s no way she didn’t get a front row seat for her sister’s offing as well.
In the absence of Poultry Grief Counseling, I guess we’ll just have to hope for the best for our lone survivor. It may be interesting, down the road, to note whether PTSD affects egg production.
The foxes are not the culprits when it comes to the missing garden veggies, however, This dastardly deed is undoubtedly the work of the lowly and despicable vole. If you haven’t had the pleasure to encounter one, voles are mousey rodents who burrow like underground bulldozers, creating complicated networks of tunnels just below the surface of the ground.
My neighbor and I were commiserating about the havoc voles have wreaked in our gardens lately. They are greedy, destructive, jerks and they seriously need to be stopped.
Last week, we came out to find that all of our beet greens had been munched right down to the earth. This will push back our beet production by a couple of weeks, while the plants put their energy into regrowing the greens, rather than being able to focus on creating the beet underground. And that’s only if the little rats don’t come back and do it all over again.
They did exactly the same thing with our beautiful rainbow chard; they helped themselves to every last leaf, leaving nothing behind at all.
Interestingly, the idiom “to go the vole,” means to venture everything on the chance of great rewards. Which is exactly what these garden pirates are doing.
Except that there’s not much venturing going on. We’re pretty easy to rob.
So, I guess the next step is to train the foxes to eat the voles.
Wish me luck.