We didn't even make it to a year. I'm just in shock right now. Before I got my girls, I was all over the boards reading and trying to figure out what to do to make a secure home. I didn't want to have a permanent coop and decide on a tractor. I bought a kit and reinforced it, and put it up on wheels. I got mesh to secure from digging predators....but I never did it! The first few weeks, I kept them penned in and under a tarp and they were going crazy. Eventually we lightened up and just let them run loose all over our fenced back yard. 6ft wooden fence - with obvious holes dug here and there by bunnies and I don't know what else. Have seen raccoons but never in our yard. Have seen opossums back there too. And we have tons and tons of owls and hawks. The girls have a warning call they make when they hear the hawks, and they run like hell. In February we got a little pullet, a mix of Wynandotte and something else - she was just shy of 4 months. The big girls wouldn't let her in the nest box at night, so I was putting her in a small pet kennel and locking it up in the coop. One night...it got late and I had forgotten. 10pm, and she was gone, all we saw was a mess of feathers and heard a lot of owls. Strike one. so my summer pattern with the girls - I'd made a screen door for the nest house (you can look at my page to see design) and we were not really moving the coop around. Sucker got heavy. There did not seem to be a lot of ventilation without keeping the main door open. So I have my reinforced screen door, and then the main door - which I closed only when it was cold. Of course during cold weather, I had the screen door off and the whole thing shut up. The girls have been refusing to go in at night for the last month, and I figured it was just too darn hot. But when I did put them in, I only closed the main coop door, rather than the door to the nest box. Because I was still thinking owls. One night this week, I went out to put them in, and they were huddled on a lawn chair with mouths open. I thought they were panting. Now I think it was fear. I'm not sure. Anyway, because I am ignorant, I decided to let them stay there. This, after my husband told me the day before he'd watched a hawk snatch a squirrel out of a nest over his head, and three of them shred it to bits. I got up on Friday morning, and 'Ginny' - my not-so-good-layer - was gone. Feathers everywhere. It looked as though they had carried her from one end of the yard to the other. I made an assumption it was hawks early in the morning for a few reasons - I've not seen anything else around, I've not heard owls and I thought these girls were just too darn big to get eaten by an owl. So I really don't know for sure, but there were feathers all over and no bird. Our other girl, Hermione, is our steady betty layer. She proceeded to go straight into the nest box on Friday night, and my husband closed the big door. He was worried about her. We felt like she was hiding more, and that she was confused since the other hen was gone. So been giving her lots of treats. Last night, I went out to close her up and she was already "in bed". I closed the big door, but did not slide the main door to the nest box closed - I haven't done that since the thermometer hit 70. So you can see where this is headed. I went out this morning with a dead roach (don't ask) and some treats and found silence. A large hole dug under the coop, a few pieces of my hen inside, a few feathers here and there and not a darn thing anywhere else. I've peeked over the fence in a few spots to see if I could find where they dragged her but no luck. Less left than when whatever ate Ginny ate her, but for the mess inside the coop that I just can't face right now. On Friday I got upset with my husband. He mentioned our friend who'd given us the birds, how he had told him we have 2 pet chickens, and he said the guy told him, "They are chickens and not pets". And I said I understand that, we will be more careful, and try not to be attached, because things happen, but this was entirely my fault. Then I got a lecture on how "farming is tough work, he knows about that, and that's why he's 'been against' this whole thing from the start". To me, that sounds like an "I told you so" lecture. All I could think was, had someone in my home, the only other person who lives here who happens to be retired, taken time to also help me by closing up the birds every night at dark there would have been fewer nights that I would have forgotten to do it and run out at 10pm to make sure they were safe. But really, that's neither here nor there, and water under the bridge since we were not taking the time and effort to secure the coop from digging predators. We even have fox and coyotes here - but I figured if they could get enough to eat that was low-hanging fruit, they wouldn't bother to come in my yard with so many obstacles. Boy do I feel like a fool and a newb right now. After all my talk to friends about how easy it is, about how I was just making it too hard in the beginning by my paranoia (it's not paranoid, it's instinct, and there is a reason I should have listened to it), here I sit with a bunch of feathers and a chunk of my best layer's body in the coop that happened while I blissfully slept. I can't even imagine the terror and I only hope it was over quickly without much pain. Let's say at this point I'm a little fearful of trying again. I am worried that even if I had closed the main door to the nest box, whatever dug that hole might have just ripped my screen door clean off too. I have it nailed to the top of the coop on hooks - in winter I had it hooked up inside the coop to the roof, and summer it is secured with little hooks at the bottom. Which I now see could be jiggled and ripped off by a strong raccoon. Or he can just dig under, like he did, since I had only closed the main door. I'm thinking now that rather than trying to put the wire I bought underneath - how far out would I have to go?? It doesn't look like it took any effort at all for them to dig in....I'm thinking instead that I would have to go to a more permanent home for the coop. That I would need to dig out a patch of ground and lay bricks or cinder blocks down to set it on top, and then find a way to secure the screen door, or just keep it closed. Someone also suggested that I put a fan in the coop to cool them off - and the other idea I had that I don't need to worry about now, was to put up a perch inside the main coop so that they could just perch up on that inside the big box instead of being in the main nest where it would be hotter once doors closed. I guess there is no urgency now. I just emailed someone about getting some buff pullets and now I have to wait. Another friend with chickens told me this would happen. She said - "they" don't know you have chickens yet....but eventually something WILL find your birds. And you had better be ready. She was right...and we were not ready.