09 July 2011
The fox was on the prowl again this morning, but we're keeping the remaining hens in their inner run, so this time he went away empty-bellied. He attacked again on Wednesday and this time we lost our rooster and four more hens. Now we're looking into getting some electric fencing for the orchard so that the chickens can continue to free-range more widely than they can at the moment. We're down to eleven hens and the three chicks now. I'm hoping one of the chicks is male, but it's still a bit too soon to tell.
And if that wasn't enough death for one week, we discovered a dead young rabbit at the back door this morning (this was before we saw the fox). I'm not sure if it was the dog or the cat or a combination of the two that were responsible. I hadn't been able to bring myself to turn our dead chickens into meat, but I didn't have any sort of emotional attachment to the rabbit, so thought I should have a go at gutting and skinning it. With the help of Ina's Highland Life blog and John Seymour's The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency I felt able to tackle the job.
The last time I did anything like this was in Biology, about a hundred years ago, when we dissected laboratory rats. The process actually wasn't too bad - the only problem is that the rabbit was so small that it won't even make a meal for one. I've put it in the freezer for now - maybe if we get a few more it might be worth turning them into a game pie!