Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A disturbing realization

When I told you the story of my five missing chickens,
I didn't expect to crowdsolve the case of their mysterious disappearance.
But a few of you suspected that a bobcat could be the culprit.
Then CeeCee described how bobcats operate.
Then I went looking on youtube and found this video of a bobcat
attempting to enter a chicken coop at night.
(Spoiler alert: he doesn't succeed, thank goodness).

Then I looked at my chicken coop...

...and this bobcat in my yard in January 2016.

He could have easily walked up the ladder and fit through the door.

It was disturbing enough to realize and accept that one of these creatures
would run off with my chickens.
But then I factored one more thing into the equation,
and here comes the really disturbing part.

In all the years I've lived here, this was the first time a predator 
had scaled the perimeter fence and caused harm.
Why then and not a hundred times before?

Because it knew there was prey to be had, and I'm not talking about the chickens.

This all happened during the last few days of Lucy's life.
She was sick and weak and could have been easy prey.

I believe now that a bobcat sensed her vulnerability, checked in at the barn a few nights running,
knew the time wasn't yet right, and left with a couple of chickens during each visit.

It sickened me when I made this realization,
and I shall never let my mind go there again. 


  1. Oh Linda! ❤️

  2. Indeed a horrible story to imagine. So glad that was not what happened.
    Co-existing with nature comes with a price.
    Wishing you a restful and Merry Christmas! May 2018 bring unexpected joy! Lisa G in TN.

  3. Very disturbing thought indeed.

  4. Michelle from Vancouver12/20/17, 7:41 AM

    Yikes ! That didn't even cross my mind?

  5. I just hope Johnny Cat is aware of the danger as it can be for him too. It's tough when it's a predator we can admire but they do have to eat and they will anything they can get :(

  6. Try not to think that. Think this instead----cats have very sensitive noses, but are terribly smart about staying alive. I'd envision this scenario.
    In all the work and worry with Lucy and George, you hadn't time nor care to clean the chicken coop. Chicken poop smells, as you well know. Bobcat was wandering through behind the barn and could smell the poop. Coming in through the barn doors would risk encountering very large animals and the scent of you would be very present. However, coming over the front fence and then over the fence to the coop without ever entering barn area is the more likely what took place. Also, because it left chicken parts under your office window tells you it was in the yard and not in the barn area. If he'd have been in sniffing around Lucy and accidently come upon the chickens, he'd have taken his kill out the back barn doors. Once you closed the coop door, he realized it immediately and quit coming around. Thus, no pictures on the game camera.
    I believe Lucy was safe. Your scent and the scent of medicinal products would not have allowed a smart bobcat to enter the barn stalls.
    If you're worried about Johnny at night, I've trained my cat to come indoors at night. If you'd like to lock Johnny up, just let me know and I'll give you my trick.

  7. Scary thought indeed. But wouldn't the dog have started barking?

  8. Bobcats don't hunt anything as big as Lucy, they go for the smaller stuff, chickens, rabbits, etc. It would take a lion or a leopard to take down something as big as Lucy. Per Wikipedia, "Its preference is for mammals weighing about 1.5 to 12.5 lb" And I don't know anyone who has chickens who doesn't close them up at night, IE, close the door on them. Otherwise, they're easy prey for foxes, bobcats, coyotes, etc. Surprised you haven't had this problem before.

    1. That was my thought, Lucy was too big, but Lucy might have been what kept it away all of those years.

  9. If the bobcat had entered the barn area, wouldn't Alan and George and Lucy have brayed to raise an alert to a predator so close to them?

    1. I doubt if they'd see it as a predator that would concern them. One year, we had a lot of strange losses of newborn lambs. It turned out to be a raccoon. My husband was out there one year to see a big raccoon on the beams above the sheep. The ewes weren't concerned at all. They didn't see it as a predator.

    2. We lost all three chickens, five adult guinea fowl and a dozen keets (baby guineas) to a herd of raccoon that tore bits and pieces of the roof from our henhouse. Not all at once, but on that final slaughter, they must have brought young ones to teach them the art of feeding on chickens. Bodies were left everywhere in the chicken house and we had no idea what to expect when we opened the door. *gasp!* They just practiced without eating most of the birds. The next night we set up lights, Jim in the barn with a shotgun and a light switch...just at dark all the raccoons were ripping up the roof. We don't like killing our native wildlife, but from that night on we set up our hav-a-hart trap and relocated the remainder. This year it was a smaller trap and 30 (yes THIRTY) sunflower seed stuffed squirrels! We live in the country and it was hard to find a place to drop them off in deeper country away from barns.

  10. I also doubt a bobcat would hunt Lucy or the others -- donkeys, as you know, make good guards. A friend of mine has a guard-donkey for her sheep & says she occasionally finds "a pancaked coyote or fox" in the pasture. Predators know whom to stay away from -- matter of life & death for themselves. Ceecee's scenario makes a lot of sense. The bobcat is unlikely to have gone near Lucy.

  11. An American in Tokyo12/20/17, 5:46 PM

    Omigosh, I think you are right!! Even though the bobcat would not have gone near Lucy, it must have known that the chickens' guardian was down!!

    Nature is much smarter than we think, I think...

  12. Regardless, very thankful Lucy was able to pass in peace. On another note, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! It looks like you might get a chance to fire up the wood stove! Am also very excited that the next chapter looms. Yea retirement!! Your friend in Colorado (one of them anyway) aunt Jean

  13. Donkeys are great natural deterrents to predators. With Alan and George in proximity to Lucy, the bobcat would have stayed away.

    Linda D.

  14. Oh Carson! How unsettling. I do think CeeCee's scenario makes sense so don't go back to that dark place! Look ahead at retirement and all the endless possibilities :-) hugs

  15. Oh, Linda! Very unsettling indeed...But, now maybe you know where your chickens went? Yes, wishing you and your critters a Merry Christmas!

  16. That is frightening, but when the raccoons got our guinea fowl and hens, we sure saw what they did to the roof of their henhouse. I can't think of anything that would not leave a trace of getting the hens from your secure building. Maybe set up a spotlight aimed at the coop and turn it on after dark now and then. I'm also shocked that Smooch didn't warn you.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a much happier New Year! Bless your heart! ~Em~

  17. And the secret is out! happy Birthday!

  18. You're still hypersensitive to anything Lucy. It's normal. But don't feed futile dark thoughts. They will come, then let them all go like whispery clouds...

  19. We've been noticing that there are more coyotes and bobcats around here also. We believe that the main reason is because we lost our beloved donkey Jack. I'm sorry for your loss. Maybe set up a game camera for a week or two for a watch and see what's going on. In the meantime...have a merry Christmas!