Decimated! That's what I told Trev, and for once he didn't make some smart remark about whatever I was talking about being divided into 10 parts. The chicken pretty much was. There was a leg here, a leg there, no head, but guts and feathers galore or is that gore. To make things just that bit more odious the surviving chooks were tucking in with carnivorous cannabilistic pleasure that did not bode well for my breakfast.
What had done it?
Trev diverted himself from the house site to make the chook pen quoll proof, because we guessed that was the most likely culprit. He even painted, 'No quolls' on the new door, but Australian animals have the lowest IQ of any animals something to do with the harsh climate and the need to devote only the smallest of resources to the biggest user of energy. I doubt the animal can read.
We borrowed a trap from a neighbour. We set it.
5am the next morning we caught it. Trev went out to check and came back with the news that we'd snagged ourselves a Tasmanian Devil. They have made up for having a very small brain by growing very large teeth. And though he was only a young animal, about the size of a cat, when he opened his mouth you had to flinch. More um, factual information about Tassie Devils can be found here
No problems. Tasmanian Devils are becoming rare through a number of human related causes, but also through disease, a facial tumour that kills. 95% of the Tassie devils are wiped out in the northern parts of Tasmania - and they've never been as prevalent in the south. So it was good to see he was healthy. Not so happy about his chook eating proclivities though. What to do, what to do? We rung Parks and Wildlife to see if they had any studies that required healthy critters, it seemed like a win win situation if they did. No, but they were happy to take details of his whereabouts and state of health. It all goes into a database recording the move of the disease and the numbers of animals remaining.
Trev went to work (he's packing cherries and driving trucks) and I was left with my new toothy (and very smelly) carrion eating friend. I released him. Only he wouldn't go. I banged something hard on the 44 gallon drum, it must have been audio hell inside there. But he wouldn't budge. So I tipped the drum upside down, but he found something to hold onto and didn't come out. Ok, I poked him with a stick. I wasn't about to stick my arm in. Nope. So I lugged the whole thing onto a wheelbarrow and pushed him over an electric fence and parked him right in front of a pile of fallen tree debris, lots of lovely dark cover. Nope. I figured he'd get out when it got too hot, so we left him. We came home three or four hours later, and he was still in there and the drum was hot to the touch. I doused the drum in cold water, the wee guy was looking heat stressed. But he wasn't leaving. It was obvious he was waiting till dark so we kept the drum cool and by this morning he'd vacated. Hopefully the experience was so negative he doesn't feel like a return trip.
Lesson learnt ... Lock up your daughters! AND your hens.