So, to add to the story, when I chanced a glance at the poultry yard this morning before heading down the road 3 hours to have the car (finally) repaired, I didn't see my last duck. He's usually right there in the throng of geese. I'll have a more complete report for you in the morning. (No, the geese & ducks only go into the chicken house on the most bitter of winter nights. Believe me, I've tried convincing them otherwise, but to no avail. Rest assured that my chicken / poultry yard is going to undergo MASSIVE rehabilitation.)
Anyway, Erin wrote, "How long after getting ducklings in the spring does it take for them to start laying again?" You know, I haven't kept good track of duck productivity because they've always been a hobby for me - an added bonus. And, I don't have my duck reference book handy. BUT, if memory serves (although I could be totally wrong), they won't lay until the following spring.
She also asked, "If you were to get [poultry that was] already laying from someone else . . . would they stop laying due to stress of moving?" Yes, any bird (chickens, ducks, geese) will, to one extent or another. But, after a full week, assuming all is as it should be, they'd be laying normally again. This was my first knee-jerk impulse, too: to see if anyone had any extras that they weren't going to butcher this fall. But, until I get rid of the predator (not likely, considering what I think it is) AND remodel the housing / fencing situation, it would be pointless. (But don't hold me to that, okay? I'm weak when it comes to poultry.)
She finished up with, "Some people would take offense, but I think I would take that predator out." Believe me, you're not the first one to express this opinion!
So, another thing that's really struck me is that being away from home does NOT help situations like this. There have been OODLES of times in the years past when I (as a homemaker) would be alerted to some sort of attack by either the dogs or a screeching chicken . . . and go tearing out into the yard to protect what was mine. When I'm not around to hear / see it . . . well, I can't do much about it. But, there is a "fix": the aforementioned "much more secure" housing situation I'm going to have to build.
Susan asked, "Have you contacted your parks department - or office of DEC? There must be something you/they can do to dissuade SOS from parking at your feed lot. National Treasure or not, he/she is negatively affecting your homestead." My initial reaction was to shake my head and give a wry chuckle, suggesting that "no, of course there's nothing I can do - after all, I'm in THEIR territory." But, then I had a second thought and so did some research.
Here's one snippet:
Nuisance animals are wildlife (not domesticated animals like dogs or cats) that cause property damage. Some animals which are normally protected by Minnesota Statute can be taken without a license or permit if they are doing damage. The animals included under this provision of Minnesota law include: mink, squirrels, rabbit, hare, raccoon, lynx, bobcat, fox, muskrat, opossum and beaver. Other unprotected birds include the English sparrow, starling, and common pigeon. All of these animals may be taken by the landowner, manager or occupant if the animal is causing property damage.Notice no mention of eagles? Yeah, well:
Permits for control of eagles to prevent or reduce predation on livestock have not been issued by the US Department of Interior since 1970. Also, regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Interior under authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 prohibit “taking” of an endangered species, such as bald eagles.So much for that. But at least we know. (Insert wan smile.)
Finally, Sparkless (WELCOME, by the way!!) said, "Can you put some chicken wire over the chicken run or are they free range? If they were totally enclosed in wire the eagle wouldn't be able to get to them."
* * *
Did you miss me? Didn't even know I've been gone for the better part of an hour, did you? When I got home tonight, I didn't hear the geese. I called out to them, but still nothing. Sitting here, writing about them, I got to thinking . . . and so called the dogs, pulled on my outside clothes, and grabbed a lantern. Under the light of the nearly full moon, I strained to see their white shapes in the corners of the chicken yard. Nothing. Siiiilence. It was so quiet, so . . . dead . . . sounding. Then, I heard a hollow, low "quwahk". It sounded echo-y, like it was coming from the . . . no way . . . chicken house?! YES, all my remaining poultry (geese, all of 'em, that male duck got "got") WISED UP and are now locked up tight for the night. Hmmm, Survival of the Fittest? Are geese the smartest in a contest between themselves, chickens, and ducks? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Oh, too, my recent crashing through the woods by the light of the moon ("by the liiiiiight, of the silvery mooooon . . . "). While I was shutting up the geese, I heard Maisy and Tucker rooting around in a very specific area on the outside of the fence. Of course, this is also a particularly THICK and difficult-to-get-to area. By the time I got in there, I could see that it was one of, if not THE, dining area(s). One chicken carcass was there and Maisy had already absconded off with what I'm assuming was another . . . probably a lot more whole than the well-picked skeleton I found.
Anyway, back to Sparkless. You're right, this is exactly what I'm going to (need to) do. My birds are free-range . . . kinda of. The poultry yard is roughly 60' x 60' with about 1/4 of that wooded. There's an 8' high fence all around. But, since it's nearly impossible to put a mesh/wire/netting "roof" on that space (unless you're Donald Trump, and I haven't seen him doing much homesteading lately), that *IS* a weakness. Another stupid move that I/we made when putting up the fence was using existing trees where we could instead of fence posts. A good utilization of Mother Nature, to be sure, but also a great natural ladder for predators such as pine martens to climb up (on the outside of the fence) and then back down (on the inside) . . . and vice versa.
So, as the months pass, I'll keep you updated on my new poultry yard plans. In the meantime, I guess I'm Goose Mama.