1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Lost my 8-yr-old--So I'm retiring the retirement coop

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Snegurochka, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Snegurochka

    Snegurochka In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Warning: rant/obituary ahead.

    Don't, whatever you do, build a tractor like this one. This was my retirement coop, made of 2X4 welded wire with chicken wire on top, with a modified plastic dog house inside. I knew it wasn't very sturdy at the time, but I needed a quick and cheap solution when my rooster decided that my two older ladies were not allowed in his coop anymore. I used to shut the wooden door to the doghouse every night, just in case, but the hinges would get frozen in winter, and stuck with hay in the summer, so I started leaving it open. Plus for the last year my RIR has liked to sleep on her "stoop" (the open door) so that she could get more air, and really, she was 8 years old, who was I to tell her what to do?

    My EE died of old age last year, and the RIR ("Limpy Squinty") has been living alone since then, spending her days sitting on the stoop and watching the butterflies, freeloading (not a one egg in two years), and playing dead--she would lie out in the pen all sprawled out asleep, just to mess with me. This bird had no fear of anything. This spring the neighbor's dog came by and went dancing around her pen, barking. She just calmly went into her little house and waited for him to leave. Meanwhile, all the other chickens were piled up in the coop, suffocating each other. Lately I'd been letting her free range by herself, although no one else is allowed to; I figured that at 8 years old, if a hawk grabbed her, it would be no loss (in fact, a gain, since she was a freeloader) and that at her age, she deserved to have a bit of fun. Anyway one day my mom shouts, "Look, a raccoon out in the middle of the day, eating out of the chicken feeder!" I ran out to see a raccoon on the outside of her tractor, reaching in to eat the feed, while Zam, that crazy bird, is standing right next to it eating with it--outside her pen. Literally shoulder to shoulder, unafraid. We killed her "friend" a couple days later when we saw him standing on the coop steps, looking in at my other birds, again in the middle of the afternoon. Since then I've only been feeding her a cup of feed a day, to make sure she eats it all before night, to deter other raccoons from coming by.

    Well, yesterday I was in a particularly good mood and gave her twice as much food as usual. I guess that was a mistake. I can't tell exactly what happened--either a raccoon came to eat out of her feeder last night, and she came off her stoop to investigate; or it reached through and grabbed her off the stoop while she was sleeping. She ran all through the pen trying to get away, while it grabbed her again and again, I suppose; and by the time she remembered she had a house to hide in she was already so severely injured that she died there. She had no fear of raccoons, which I guess was part of the problem.

    What's bad is that I sort of wanted her to die--she was old, arthritic, limped really badly, blind in one eye, crotchety and mean, and very lonely. But I wanted her to pass in her sleep, not get eaten alive. She had her guts exposed in both her tail and crop, and her beak eaten off, and she still managed to limp back into her house. And all this happened through the chicken wire. There is absolutely no damage on that wire whatsoever.

    That $40 tractor lasted me 3 years without incident, but now I'm dismantling it, permanently; and today I'm going to go uptown and buy a bunch of hardware cloth to cover all my other pens (God only knows how much it's going to cost). And tonight I'm going to set out the coon trap.

    RIP Zam 2003-2011

  2. ozark_chickies

    ozark_chickies Songster

    Jun 19, 2011
    Poor Zam [​IMG] .[​IMG]
  3. lowry075

    lowry075 Songster

    Mar 29, 2011
    Southern California
    How sad. [​IMG]
  4. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Sorry you lost Zam

  5. Lee

    Lee Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    Marion County, IN
    R.I.P. Zam.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  6. chkn

    chkn Songster

    Jun 27, 2010
    Awe, that reminds me of my old hen Polly I lost this spring. She was kind of a mean, tough old biotch but she was a character. She tried so very hard to live. Some kind of blockage or sour crop got her. I tried hard but I couldn't save her. I was so bummed. She was 8-9 years old. She put out two golf ball sized eggs this year that only contained whites but I didn't care.
  7. Gma

    Gma In the Brooder

    RIP, Zam. Sorry she had to go that way. [​IMG]

  8. Snegurochka

    Snegurochka In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks for the sympathy everybody. It turns out it was a pair of coons, and we got them both last night.
  9. gertiie

    gertiie Songster

    Apr 18, 2011
    Warsaw, Indiana
    I am so sorry her life ended so tragically instead of peacefully . I am glad you caught the culprits [​IMG]
  10. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    Sorry that you lost Limpy Squinty that way. [​IMG] She reminds me of my Rudy, AKA Rooty Tooty. My oldest chicken is 3 1/2. The first chicken I had as an adult. I've thought about what to do when she retires. It's so hard to know. Sounds like she had a really long happy life. I'm glad you got the two raccoons that did this to her. It makes me wonder, though. It sounds like a pair. I'd keep the trap up for a while and see if any babies come back.

    So sorry for your loss,


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by