Jamison Stone, 11, poses with a wild pig he killed near Delta, Ala., May 3, 2007. Stone's father says the hog weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail. If claims of the animal's size are true, it would be larger than ``Hogzilla,'' the huge hog killed in Georgia in 2004.
A few years back, a friend of ours sent us pictures of havalina running through their land in East Texas at night; they got the shots with an infrared camera. My uncle has caught a number of feral hogs in a huge trap he's made that, as the hog walks towards the back of the cage, stepping on the floor causes it to go down, releasing the latch holding the front door up, thus capturing it. He said it makes pretty good barbecue. (But I don't think he would have been able to fit THAT MONSTER into his cage-we were joking, asking "What does a feral hog eat?" Answer: Anything it wants. And it doesn't even have to be mean to kill ya-it could just SIT on ya!) I haven't seen an feral hogs around here, but I remember hearing a couple of years back that there were some on the north side of Somervell County, actually in Hood County.
Something has been getting at the poultry lately. I have some fairly young chicks and ducklings and, one night when it was storming, I didn't ensure that the ducks got in safely into the chicken house. The next morning one was gone and I found it a day later in the corner of the poultry yard, ripped open. I don't think it was a fox because it wasn't eaten; so the most likely candidates are a raccoon or a possum. I ordered a live trap cage yesterday to put into the yard.
I also just finished a large poultry coup that, while it isn't the most beautiful to look at, works pretty well.
Here's the before shot. That's the chicken house directly behind the frame. I made a new outdoors coop for 3 main reasons. One, I wanted to be able to WALK in the coop-those chicken tractors don't cut it for stooping over. Two, I wanted a large enclosed area for times (like now, when there are predators around) that they can be outside and have plenty of room. Three, I wanted a metal roof to be able to start rainwater harvesting. I also had plans to reuse a couple of the chicken tractors.
Here's the (mostly) finished new coop. (I still need to put on that last metal piece on the roof, but it has rained every single day. The other chicken tractors are on either side; I put black netting on the one because it has no roof but that side faces west. The chicken tractor on the right has a metal roof and some roosts under it.
And the barrel is there for rainwater harvesting-in 2 days of rain, the entire thing filled up-I think we will have to put another one next to it for the overflow. Plans are to get some gutter and downspout for this so that ALL the rain that comes from the roof goes into the barrel. Then will have a small hose that goes to an automatic waterer to be located insde the coop (right now the chickens have hose water from the well inside the chicken house). I don't know yet how much they will drink, how fast, but plans are to take the chicken house completely off the well in the next month or so, so that rainwater supplies all water needs (We're going to do the same thing in the dog pen-build a struture with a slanted metal roof and some gutter, etc to capture the water so that the dogs will have fresh rainwater supplied without a long hose stretching across the yard).
Back to predators. One of my top hat roosters disappeared the other day, as well as another Brahma chicken. I found the Brahma carcas but not the rooster, so I don't know what happened to him. There's a discussion that goes on amongst those of us that love our poultry about whether it's better to have them cooped or let them free-range. The problem, around here, with free-ranging, is that something GETS them when they're running around. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to look out the window and see chickens happily running around the yard eating bugs... but if the population slowly gets decimated, is it worth it? On the other hand, when birds are cooped, I want to get them green to eat, so I give them grass clippings after I mow the lawn (they also LOVE bananas and popcorn).
Anyway, I'm sure there are no hogzillas out on THIS property, because they burrow and root and leave HUGE holes in people's land. But I'll write again about trapping predators once the live catch cage comes in.