I spoke too soon, bragging about being able to grow such beautiful tulips earlier this Spring. About a week ago, I noticed some dirt thrown up on the edging of the herb & flower garden. I thought maybe the cat or one of the chickens had been in there scratching about, and just swept the dirt back. Not long ago, one of the fence-flying chickens had started laying eggs just inside the little picket fence. I'd put a golf ball in her nest so she'd keep using it, so I could gather those eggs without having to look for them.
Then, a couple of days later, when I looked for eggs, the golf ball was gone. Upon closer examination, I found that it had fallen down into a hole dug out where a tulip bulb used to be. Uh-oh, not a good sign. Checking around beneath the flourishing oregano, wildflowers, and hollyhocks, I found only more potholes, wilting strips of tulip foliage, and gnawed pieces of the very bottom bits of bulbs. The daffodils, I think, are still there, but some squirrel found the tulips and appeared to be starting on the grape hyacinths next. Damn!
So I set the box trap in that garden, and have caught two fat squirrels over the past few days. I took them for a little ride to the south, over to a willow and cottonwood thicket across the creek, far from any other houses but with plenty of grasses and shrubs. There's cover from coyotes, and I hope the running water will prevent them from trying to head back over here.
Yesterday evening, when I was down by the chicken coop to let them out for a little walkabout before dark, I noticed one of the Rhode Island Reds huddled down next to the shade shed. When I went over to see if she was ok, I noticed she had a quarter-sized gouge ripped out of her back, just above her tail, and when she got up she balanced on only on one leg. I don't know what attacked her - the gouge looks more like something took a bite out of her than being pecked by the guinea or trod by the rooster. There was a hawk circling over the pen yesterday morning, and there are owls nesting in the trees across the street. It doesn't look like anything has dug under the coop, and everyone else seems to be ok.
I made sure she got some food and water, and by nightfall she was inside the coop, inside one of the nest boxes. We left her there for the night. Earlier today, she was outside with the rest of flock, so she is still managing to get around. Worried that the other birds might pick on that open sore, or bully her away from the food and water, we moved her up to the dog run this evening. She ate, and then settled down for the night inside the little brood shed. She's still gimpy, but maybe a couple of days on her own will allow her to recover.