True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Food Chain

In addition to feeding my ladies,

I feed a healthy population of mice.
It's kind of inevitable.  
They live in the rafters of the shed, in nests made of Marky's shredded dog-toys.
They tunnel into the coop and eat the spilled chicken feed.
Last fall, these creatures had quite the population explosion.

When I stepped into the shed, great herds of mice brazenly scurried across my boots and stalked me fearlessly from the rafters.  

When they moved into our own attic, I began to think unpleasant thoughts about mouse traps and such. 

But I didn't have to think about that for long. On a warm night with the window open, I was pleasantly awakened by the calls of three different types of owls. The mice had been discovered. Their numbers swiftly declined.

So my mice are doing their jobs supporting the food chain, and I'm feeling much better about supporting the mice.  

Now a fox has made a home in the woods right behind the coop. 

I'd like to think that this fox is attracted by the mice, but...well, it did find a good chicken-dinner in our yard a couple of years ago (see Silent Morning).

A raccoon, a fisher cat and several hawks also check in on the girls from time to time.

Recently, we left town for a whole week, and I made certain that my flock would be safe and comfortable while we were gone.

When we returned, the ladies were incredibly happy to see us.
You'd think they'd seen a predator or something.


  1. Smile...this is a very optimistic look at what others see as outright enemies!

  2. I would have been grateful for the owls too. The last picture is adorable. Everyone wanting a chicken dinner.

  3. Haha, I absolutely adore that last picture! Your work just makes me smile! =)

  4. Great story - we're all in this together....

  5. Too gorgeous - that last picture is so sweet! I have serious hen house envy.

  6. Owls, wonderful they'll do the job quick smart........I have to rely on my cats who seem to be doing the job nicely. I think they had some help from a brown snake, eek!!

    That's one very fancy hen house, better not let my girls see it.

    Claire :}

  7. Hmmm....where can I find some owls? We only have crows, lots of crows. They do keep the hawks away, but not the mice. Happy your issue took care of itself :)

  8. Oh, i know...This is the only thing keeping me from having chickens. i'm a coward. i don't mind mice, i love owls, foxes, bear--the wild kingdom--but i fear i could never make my ladies safe enough/i could never leave home.

  9. What a refreshing view! I really appreciate this post, it made me smile. Thanks. :)

  10. You just need a couple of Guineas to join your hens. They make short work of mice! Mine were raised with the hens and behave pretty much like the hens. They'll kill small snakes, too--which I don't appreciate so much. And they sure let us know if any stranger, man or beast, comes around!

  11. I keep seeing Foxy Loxy trot past my house, I am in the town so he is an Urban Fox, these Urbs is ungry!

  12. I love that last picture, it's like a "Where's Lucy" game. (and that bear in the corner just cracks me up!)

    As usual, such a lovely take on life with chickens.

  13. I am now praying for owls. What eats coyotes? Maybe I hadn't better pray for whatever that is.

  14. I am normally not fazed by mice, but your description of them swarming over your boots and moving into your attic made the hair on my neck rise! Glad the owls came to the rescue.

    Did you feel like calling the girls just to check in while you were gone?

  15. Your chickens allow spilled food on the farm???? The whole reason I have chickens is to clean up after everyone else. And they aren't afraid to chase down a field mouse either :)

  16. GREAT writing, pictures and photo's! I read every single post, time for bed now, thanks for sharing , Maureen x

  17. Mice are about the only things I'm afraid of. problem. They eat mice after all. I even stopped feeding the birds because the seeds were bring mice into my cottage. This winter I only had two. That's why God made mouse traps. Snap. Gone. I use the looooong fireplace tongs to grab the trap and in the garbage it goes. I am not brave enough to empty and reuse. I can't look either. It's a pathetic trying to grab the trap blindly with the fireplace tool.

  18. That's it! An owl! That's what we need here at times! to find one! lol

  19. Unfortunately owls, and most of the critters that eat mice, will also eat chickens - or their eggs :( But it looks like your chickens live in a beautiful, secure fortress! The last picture made me laugh. You are SO talented!

  20. We just had an encounter with a possum who managed to make it into our coop. Thankfully we have a very loud hen named Lovey who saved the day.

    My husband keeps saying we need a yard cat to get all of our mice. When he does set the traps, he has to empty them because I just can't handle it.

  21. My mice were under control when a feral Momma cat moved in the little red barn/coop! But after she disappeared (coyotes), they seem to be getting a population going again! I haven't had any predators make it into my hen house for over a year now! It was a raccoon that found his way into the covered area through a little hoe in the weaving of the chicken wire. I went outside after dark and it was hanging upside down from it!! I got him out of there right away! And my hubby repaired the whole the very next day!
    Love your story!