Hello Everyone 1st year with chickens and I seem to be cursed with chicken tragedy. Here's my story. I'm Tara, 38, I have 3 wonderful children, girl 17, & boys 4 & 8, live in Citrus County FL. (West coast, 90 miles N. of tampa)I am blessed with approx. 4 acres. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, until my early 20's my back yard was a 10 X 10 concrete slab with the nearest grass being about 6 blocks away at the local park. So I truly cherish the gifts that I am able to give my children and I never take any if it for granted. I definitely wanted to give my kids as many different animals as possible but honestly didn't think too much of chickens. My mom hates birds so I didn't give them much thought. We found an awesome little dachound mix one day and we all fell in love . Long story short the dog was great except one day he got into the neighbors yard and sadly took out half their flock. I didn't understand how they could be so upset over chickens but I without thought knew I had to replace them . While doing so I fell in love with those little chick's and brought 2 pullets home in March of this year. After some research and not knowing how amazing a chicken coop could be I started building. After about 3 weeks I finished and then bought 6 more baby pullets (1 turned out to be a Phoenix rooster), and also acquired another hen that was not wanted. So we are so excited we now have a Phoenix rooster, and 8 hens, all different breeds all who are about 15 weeks old that we allow to free range. I was so amazed at how smart and extremely amazing my little flock was. Then we had our 1st tragedy Sonny our rooster was gone and whatever took him left a trail of his feathers leading to a small game trail in the back of my property. I am a little freaked so I start putting my girls in the coop a little earlier and letting out a little later. A few days later while Me and my hubby are working In our garage 2 hens go missing, this time the killer not only left tracks but pooped in my coop. I use sand in the coop and there was perfect prints of a mommy bobcat, a baby, and her racoon partners. We couldn't believe they did this while we were only 50 foot away. We try to be even more careful and start shooting our unwanted visitors (got a few coons) but still lose 2 more hens. So I now have only 3 hens left a Phoenix and my 1st 2 hens which are Golden Comets, they will no longer sleep in the coop , they sleep in a tree on My neighbors property, I've locked them in the coop quite a few times but it's no use. So now it's Aug. And my 4 yr old wants more chick's so I decide to extend my run and maybe not let them free range. So we get 6 straight run Plymouth rocks and 2 buff orpington ducklings. With in 1st few days my son accidently stepped on 1 and 2 more of the chick's just died. Then on the 1st day I let the 3 chick's and ducklings into the run my neighbors rooster who has claimed my little flock his, killed 2 of the chick's in about 3 seconds before I had a chance to say stop. So Now With My 3 Tree hens, 2 Ducklings And 1 chick I am totally ready to quit, especially when 1 morning I let them out around 730 and about 750 I walk my son to the bus stop, I am back by 805 and that quick something got the last chick. So this takes us to about 3 weeks ago when I also realize my Phoenix is missing but no feathers anywhere. To cheer me up my daughter bought me a 2 day old silver laced cochin bantum, he is the sweetest thing ever . I take him with me everywhere, but he really needs a buddy, but I can't find any that young anywhere unless I buy 6 of the same from a chain store but I still need some chicks, So 2 weeks ago Monday I decided to try again but no more free ranging. I find someone selling 8 week old chick's and decide to get 3 but when I get there I find 40 8 week old chick's all stuffed into a tiny cage, many if them are bleeding from fighting and just not having enough room. . So using every last penny I can find (I don't carry cash) I end up with 6 . 2 white cochin, 2 red see link, 2 barred rock. They are awesome, they cleaned up well and are very friendly. All is well, I even find my Phoenix, he went broody on me and is under my house sitting on 6 eggs. I start to feel relief, but just to be sure I buy some rabbit fence and put it 2 feet up all the way around my run and that very night after I put them in the fence after playing but before I lock them in the coop . . Tragedy again . This time the most awful. 3 of my young ones have been pulled thru the fence. It was horrible, my son was hysterical. And 1 of them is still alive but her leg is completely gone. I inspect the tracks, tag team again. Coon and bobcat tracks. Augggghhhhhh. Oh I forgot the same so day I convinced the mgr. Of rural king to let me but 2 chick's instead of 6 so now my little baby has a silver laced Wyandotte and a Rhode Island Red friend, both 3 day old pullets. So this all happened on friday, 5 days ago and I am completely and totally fruatrated. But for the second time I decide to completely redo everything. . I have made my run about 3 times the size. I bought 8 foot chain link and started with that, I dug and buried it about 8 inches in the ground. I then put rabbit fence around inside 2 foot up, I put 1/4 inch hex around outside 2 foot up, I then got tons of dirt and made a mound around outside bottom and rolled a little barred wire around outside top and bottom. It is completely roofed with 1/4 hex and I put some stakes I found around bottom. I hung fishing string with bells all around cause so wine told me it scares stuff away. I am at my wit's end I will do anything. Then to top it all off just ad I am finishing up this huge project I hear my sitting hen stirring, the eggs should be hatching any day now since she has been sitting for at least 17 days now but when I get I very there I see a huge snake in her nest. I yell for my hubby who come running over just as the snake rolls from under the house wrapped around my hen 3 times. I immediately lose it and begin to cry hysterically but my hubby saved the day and although he ended up hitting my poor hen with a flash lite I. The struggle, but he killed the 6 foot 4 inch yellow rat snake that had her. So wow. Thank you so so much to whoever has read this. I know it was long but I just wanted someone to see how much I have been thru and how hard I am working. I also would love any adbice, suggestions, comments. Anything from those with experience. My neighbors have been great with helping me and I adore them but would love to hear from others. They have also lost about 7 hens during this time period but haven't in the past few weeks. I am the last house, so they have woods behind but I have them behind and on side. Thanks again for your time. I have been reading things I. This site since I got my 1st chick and have gotten some great advice and ideas. Almost forgot to give the good news. The chick that lost her leg is doing great. I've been cleaning her womb and applying triple antibiotic, my older hens and the neighbors rooster will not stop attacking get so I have been keeping her separate from the rest most of the day and hope that once she gets stronger they will leave her alone. We are waiting patiently for our chick's to hatch and I pray they all make it from under the house. So as of now this is my crazy set up. My 2 7 months old hens still free range, but sleep in a tree but come over to the coop to eat and lay, the 2 ducks and 4 young hens I let out while I'm outside, in the house I still have my 3 week old cochin and 2 5 day old chick's and just waiting on momma and babies. This is more stressful than parenthood.