As I looked at the coop, I realized there was something inside. As I came closer, I saw...a squirrel! It had a handful of feed in its hands, and was quickly stuffing the found goodies into its mouth. Now, I don't mind squirrels. They are my sorority mascot. They like to pose for pictures. They are all over my backyard, so I have learned to live with and love them (as long as they don't reside in my attic, which they don't, or chew on the power lines, cutting the electricity to my home...which they've done). I've been known to take nuts to the back of our yard and share them. But squirrels near my coop stealing my girls' dinner? That's crossing the line! Apparently my girls agreed with me, too.
But wait a minute! How did a squirrel get IN the coop and pen...and how did my chickens escape? More sleuthing was needed.
A quick look around answered that question. We have used a bifold slatted door for the front entry. In the heavy winds we've had recently, some of the slats must have blown loose, creating an opening just large enough for the squirrel to enter, and the girls to escape.
I had realized a few weeks ago that the door wasn't a good door for the coop. I had planned to spend part of spring break building a new door out of pallets. But it was mid-February, and we needed something now! I stapled some hardware cloth over the door. We've been blessed with really good weather, so I am not too concerned about the girls getting cold, especially since the groundhog said spring is springing soon. Because I'm enjoying seeing into the coop better, I've decided to add a window to the door when I make it.
The squirrel found its way out of the pen, mouth filled to bursting with layer pellets. My girls, who had followed me back to the coop, marched inside, gossiping about the squirrel and yapping about the missing food. All ended well, and I learned a lesson about using strong doors in the coop.