CSI: The Coop

Where's Colombo when you need him?  I've been trying to sleuth out the reason we've lost so many guineas in the last couple of days.  Nothing made sense.  I knew I closed the coop door the night we lost two.  Yet, I found it wide open the next morning.  The next two losses came when one terrified guinea refused to go back into the coop and tangled with an owl, and the other one slept too close to the chain link fencing--classic raccoon target.

Last night about one o'clock in the morning, I woke to hear the dogs barking at Something.  I grabbed the flashlight and went out onto the porch.  The dogs were focused on the south coop, and I heard chickens squawking.  Running out to the pasture, waving my flashlight, I got to the coop and saw - nothing.  Did I scare something off?  Couldn't tell.

This morning, I came out to find three Rhode Island Red hens wandering around the pasture, and all the rest of the poultry still in the coop.  The good news was that they were alive and unharmed, but I couldn't imagine what had happened.

Here's what I found when I came up to the door of the coop:

Closed but not latched?  How did THAT happen?  I played with the latch a bit, and discovered that even if it's latched, a good yank will pop it open.  Aha.  Now it all makes sense.  (Guess the coop has settled a bit since we put it together--the latch used to fit better.)

A raccoon could pop the door open and take two guineas.  A raccoon could chomp a guinea through the chain link if she was close enough to grab.  And if I scared a raccoon off after it had popped the door, several chickens might push their way out when they woke up in the morning.

It's a theory. 

So now I'm off to make some adjustments to our coop door.  Farmer vs. raccoon - the age-old, classic conflict. 

I'm also looking for a vet who does counseling for poultry with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


  1. Cindy, you need to give Bonnie Bradshaw a call--she has bought eggs from you before. Keeping out critters humanely is what she does for a living. I know her guys do a great job because Gene refers a lot of his customers to her and they are all thrilled with the results.

  2. That's true, Peggy - hadn't thought of calling Bonnie. I know she rehabs orphaned babies, but I bet she knows how to keep them out of places they shouldn't go, as well. Thanks!

  3. Thank goodness you're getting to the bottom of this. It is DO distressing to lose an animal, even the funny looking ones!

  4. Bonnie does more than rehab critters. DFW Wildlife actually helped her start a business for keeping out critters called 9-1-1 Wildlife because so many people who were removing raccoons, squirrels, etc. from their homes were inadvertently killing them and/or their babies. She and her team have been so successful, they recently expanded to Houston. Gene and I think Bonnie is tops!

  5. That's amazing, Peggy - I had no idea! But Bonnie is one sharp gal, so it doesn't surprise me. She and I are Master Naturalist buddies. I'll have to check out her business!


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