Feeling both vulnerable, frustrated and, to be honest, outdone, I called my neighbor and asked him to stop by thinking two heads might be able to work up an improved containment system. Later that afternoon neighbors J and D arrived. Three heads ought to be able to deter the actions of any animal. We rigged up the pen with hardware cloth, wire, heavy paving stones, boards and fence rails. We plugged up every imaginable entry point. A few hours and a couple of beers later, we stood back to marvel at our ingenuity, at the same time reminding ourselves there were no guarantees. After all, it is a jungle out there! At any rate, we parted company feeling fairly confident that we had bested the beast.
The next morning, before doing my regular chores, I checked the broiler pen. Not a pretty sight. Scrape holes in three different places, one set of bodiless legs, and one partially eaten carcass. Now down to 14, there were really only two choices: Leave the door open and make less work for our nocturnal diner or take up neighbor J’s offer of housing them at his place where they would be safely housed in his well fortified hen house for the next three weeks of their life. I chose the latter option and that is where they have lived unharmed – at least for now. One never knows. Chicken terrorists are apparently a whip smart, dogged species. One has to respect them for their devotion to duty.
It strikes me as somewhat odd, even hypocritical, to be complaining about our chicken losses, since what we are doing might on some level be an act of predation. It is a different, perhaps more civilized, form of the same survival activity. But ours are, in fact, acts aimed at the same purpose. I guess the real difference is that we have far more choices about how we go about gathering and consuming our food. A weasel, if that is what it was, has fewer options. It is a struggle out there and we need to come up with better strategies and tactics if we are to prevail. While I am determined to win the war, my adversary has earned my respect. I am also lucky to have such wonderful neighbors, comrades in arms ready and willing to enter the fray when called.