Well crap....I need to vent


Apr 19, 2018
Virginia Mountains
It is/was all my fault. Sorry but I need to vent.
We have a moveable run/coop set up for our quail. Because I thought we could do it. & it's worked for 4 months. The quail love fresh grass, their cat litter box full of sand, & all the other little things we put in their run to make them happy. We didn't want them on mesh wire because it's not natural. & we would feel bad if they sat in their own poo as the grass died under them.

We moved the run 3 days ago & one corner of the run wasn't completely flush with the ground. But it didn't seem like a big enough gap for our Jumbo's to sneak through. Darn my lack of imagination. We had 30 quail (3 boys, 27 ladies- I will vent about my culling of the 16 boys in another post). Anyway, Hubs & I came home after a long day trip, let the dogs out, & went to check on the quail. Everything seemed normal....until my dog, Lana, flushed a quail out of the bushes/grass by the pool. Hubs asked "what the hell was that?" I knew as soon as I saw the attempt at flight. I said "one of our quail" in a very unhappy voice. Lana came to heel like the overly spoiled city dog she really is. Hubs & I flanked the quail, so she tried some escape attempts against the pool fence, & after 5 minutes, we got her!! We put her back in with the rest, Hubs put stuff up against the unsecured corner, & we thought it would all be ok. Then I did a double check of the bushes & saw another quail. My stomach dropped. We chased this guy through the remains of the garden & eventually caught him. When I released him back into the run we did a quick head count. 26 is what I counted, 25 is what Hubs counted. I told Lana to find me more quail, so she ran about the yard, tail wagging, nose to the ground. She flushed one out of the grass close to the house. I turned to call to Hubs & lost sight of her. Omg, I had no idea a brown speckled quail could be so invisible in recently cut green grass!!!!!! Hubs was confused as to what I was attempting to point at. So I told Lana to "find the quail" again (thank God she's a great dog with chase instinct but not kill drive, & that she respects me as the crazy alpha that I am). Lana charged the quail & made her fly again. We then had Lana sit & wait while we baby talked & stalked the quail. We caught her after a 10 minute chase. We hoped/prayed that those were the only escapees as the light faded. Neither dog found any more (honestly, poor Mac had no idea what was going on though). That night there was a freeze warning & the next morning everything was frosted over something fierce. It's been 2 days now & we haven't found any more. I did a hard count this morning. We have 26 total, the 3 boys are in there. So that means 7 escaped & 4 are still on the run (if they're alive). To add insult to injury is that we were getting an egg a day before all of this but not now. So I think that our one egg layer escaped.
I'm sorry to bother you all. It's just that after raising these little guy/gals from babies, & spoiling the crap out of them, it rather hurts that they ran away. I get that they are animals & are just doing what nature dictates. But the heart doesn't understand logic & facts. I fear that the 4 missing are dead between the weather & predators. So I just needed to vent. Thank you guys for just letting me get this out. If you pray (to whatever god), I'd appreciate your prayers. I feel like I failed as a mom, I failed to protect them. We don't have human kids yet but I suspect this is how my father felt when I was a bull headed teenager (totally different than the bull headed woman I became, like totally different). So thank you all for letting me vent. I'm beyond thankful that this website exists!!!
Yes, we've learned from our mistakes. We don't have the money/equipment/time to grade all 76 acres to be flat but we will be more aware of the space between the ground & run. We were hoping to do the Polyface Farm model for all of our animals. But I've rethought the run/coop set up for quail/turkey/pheasant/game bird set up. I want to do a more permanent set up but one where they can go through certain doors & be in a new section. We'll post pictures someday when it's all built. I want them safe but as close to natural conditions as possible. I realize that it's not foolproof but that won't keep us from trying!
I know this is frustrating, but sometimes these things turn out to be a blessing, you have found a flaw in the system without losing the whole flock. Hopefully the others will still turn up, sounds like your dog can be a great help finding the birds. Thanks for sharing too, you may be helping someone else avoid the same problem.
They may yet come back. I had a male escape and fly off into the neighbour's. I philosophically thought, oh well, at least it was a male (we had too many of them). A couple of days later I went outside to find him waiting for me on the lawn. I caught him easily and returned him to his friends. He was very hungry. So fingers crossed your ones will find their way back to their flock.

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