We can hear coyotes howling at night, so when we started adding animals to our homestead, I knew we were going to need sturdy housing for them all. It wasn’t until we set out trail cameras, though, that I really started to get an idea of how many creatures visit us looking for a quick meal.
Yes, Mr. Coyote, I see you.
People have this romantic idea about leaving their dogs out at night to “stand guard” while they sleep. Unless they’ve invested the time and money into the right dog and the right training, this is what those dogs are actually doing and they’re a nuisance.
This is a very handsome fox, but I don’t want him anywhere near my chickens!
I didn’t start thinking of raccoons as predators until they started eating our chickens.
This bobcat doesn’t just visit at night.
This one shocked me the most. Yep, that’s a mountain lion strolling down our driveway!
These guys don’t look like predators…until you see what they can do to your garden in one night!
These rabbit bucks have something else on their mind at this moment, but it won’t be long before they stop fighting and head to my garden for a midnight snack!
These pictures made me realize our farm is home to a lot more than just the animals we’ve brought here and that isn’t going to change. The best thing we can do is make it hard for them to cause trouble by building strong fences and animal houses.
The larger the animal, the less vulnerable it is, so eventually the cows may stay out at night, especially when it’s hot, and now that Faith has caught up on her growth, she stays out; but everyone else has learned the “bedtime” routine of going into their shelters for the night.
We’ve learned that even after you think you’re done building an animal shelter, there will probably be things to go back as finesse. Sam, our ram likes to ram the house, you can see where we’ve had to reinforce the front wall with a long 2×4. Next, we have to find a way to make the bottom of the door more sturdy. The lattice “window” is to provide more ventilation. That many animals breathing in a confined space was causing condensation which made everything in there moist and could have caused them to get sick.
Using the horse trailer to raise little chicks has been wonderful. We bought the trailer as part of our wildfire evacuation plan, so it was just sitting unused. It has rubber mats on the floor which make hosing it out really easy and nothing is going to get through those metal doors. The windows are open for ventilation, but they are screened and too high to access easily.
We use our bedtime routine to make sure all the animals are accounted for (there are usually a few stragglers trying to get in one more quick snack, even though they go to bed with fresh food and water) and to give them all the “once over” to look for injuries, and make sure no one looks sick or “off”. It’s a good way to spot and take care of little things before they become a problem.