Pioneer Woman at Heart

One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Face to Face with a Great Horned Owl ~ The Story

I am sorry to say that I don't have photos.  In the "heat" of the moment, we were more concentrated on saving the chickens.

My son is typically the one to close the chicken coop at night.  Every night the chickens have been putting themselves to bed, but now it gets darker, faster.  The bulb in the heat lamp broke a few days ago too.

By the time my son got to the barn to shut the coop door, and lock my ladies and Sparta in nice and tight, he flipped on the light to discover an owl inside the coopAnd one barred rock chicken had been mutilated.

The kids came and got us, and we tried to figure out how to get it to fly back out.  The dark barn was simply an invitation to it, for a night time snack.  Unfortunately.

We kept all the lights on and as we were on the side of the coop, talking normally, trying to encourage this monster to leave, it flew out and up into the loft.

This owl, was like nothing I have ever seen in the zoo. It was much taller than our chickens, maybe 1 1/2 feet to a bit taller, and very mean looking.  How mean?

Well, this morning, we e-mailed the park ranger to ask if they are protected.  (a portion of this post is now removed due to people flooding my inbox, telling me what I already know - be assured that our family would NEVER kill a protected animal) Hubby did tell me right away that he thought owls are "protected."  

We've never had an owl here, just red-tailed hawks, that we feared would eat our chickens.

We looked up the parks guide on owls in our state, and our jaws dropped.  We had no idea that we were messing with the big kahoona of our state's owls - The Great Horned Owl, who reaches as tall as 22 inches with a wing span of 44 inches, and tallons that are know to go at humans (without hearing them coming at you - Gulp!)

Humans!  Good thing we had long sticks in hand, but then again, we could have been badly hurt.   We had no idea what we had before us.

One araucana is still missing, as she ran out of coop, and to save her life.  Blood covered Sparta (rooster) didn't stick around either, but all are back inside, despite the one the owl killed, and one araucana.  

We shut the coop for the night, but will need to go in search Nellie (nervous Nellie).

The girls told me this morning, my son went up into the loft, opened a window, and got it to fly out of the barn.  He is still in bed, so he has no idea what he was messing with yet.  Gulp.

Being a homesteader/farmer is definitely not easy some days.          


Carolyn said...

I LOVE owls. Having said that, I'm also a little afraid for my cats if they are outside. We mainly have Barred Owls, not quite as big as the Great Horned. I'd be having to change my undies after an encounter like that!!

Yart said...

I'm happy none of you were hurt... (sorry about your chicken) But how neat to not only see but have it on your place! I took the monsters on a screech owl hunt a couple weeks ago... It took almost 2 hours but we were finally able to call one in.

Kim said...

What an encounter and so glad you all lived to tell about it! I am sorry about the chicken. Were you able to salvage the meat? Hope you find Nellie. And hope you figure a way to keep this from happening again.

Candy C. said...

WOW!! What an experience, both bad and good! I'm glad it wasn't any worse than it was. A couple of years ago, I had a few-day-old baby goat go missing overnight. I still think it was an owl because I had been hearing one for several nights.