This last weekend, we were back at our hometown for my cousin's wedding. Before we left late Friday night, we filled up the food and water containers for the 2 hens, the rabbit, and the sheep and gave the gardens a light sprinkling to get everything through Saturday and Sunday without supervision.
When we got back last night, around 9, as the daylight was quickly failing, we walked around the yard to check up on the animals. I brought the rabbit food and more water while Joey checked on the chickens. From across the yard, I could hear him say "What?!" and I knew the chickens were gone. Sometime over the last two days, another raccoon must have taken the remaining two hens. Since the other six were taken, we've been closing the small door to the chicken run every night to keep the hens safe, but since we were going to be gone for two days, we didn't want to leave them "cooped up" (har har) in the hen house.
Joey set a havahart live trap next to the coop to see if the raccoon would come back, and sure enough, not two hours later, he had a raccoon. He drove it out to the country this morning and released it.
So now we have an empty chicken coop. But we have an order of chicks coming next week so we have a lot of work to do to secure the coop. I don't think we'll put the chicks in the coop for a couple weeks, so we have a little time to clean the coop and make it raccoon-proof. I just can't believe that after two summers of not having any problems with the coop that we've had all eight chickens taken by raccoons in a matter of a couple days. The coons must be hungry this summer. I can't say it enough: we need rain.
I think we'll set up an enclosure for the chicks on our enclosed back porch where they'll be safe and warm. I have to start thinking about what I want to use to keep them in. Last time we had chicks, we laid layers of newspaper on my parents' shed floor and then made walls from duct tape and cardboard boxes. But I'm not sure I want them directly on my porch floor, so we'll have to get creative. Out of the 25 minimum order, I think we are only keeping about 8 and the rest are going to friends.
Anyone have any suggestions for keeping 8 chicks? Or raccoon-proofing your hen house?