One of our hens, Virtuous Violet has been setting on a clutch of 12 eggs for two weeks now. Every afternoon I go to check on her, make sure she has food and water, and let her out of her broody pen so she can run around in the chicken pasture for a few minutes. Today when I went to check on her I got quite a surprise. When Violet started setting I removed the small towel that used to hang over the front of the nest box as a curtain, and I put it on top of the nest box. It’s been sitting there for two weeks because I just never got around to taking it in the house. Today when I went to check on Violet the towel was noticeably frayed, and there was mouse poop on it! I looked around the broody pen, and I noticed more mouse poop on the short wood platform that the food and water containers sit on. I looked behind the nest box and saw a huge pile of chicken feed that had obviously been cached by a rodent. Looking back now it makes sense that someone besides Violet was raiding her food dish. I had been quite mystified by the large amount of feed that had been disappearing from Violet’s food dish between the time that I close the coop door at night and open it first thing in the morning, when chickens are sleeping not eating!
There was no doubt that a mouse had set up camp in Violet’s broody pen. I decided I needed back-up to deal with the situation so I went to get my husband to dispatch of the unwelcome rodent. Armed with a flashlight, rake, and an empty 5-gallon bucket – I’m not really sure that these items comprise a suitable mouse capture kit, but we were under a time limit to get rid of the mouse before Violet wanted back in so we grabbed what was at hand and went up to the coop. We puzzled for a moment over how the mouse had gotten into the broody pen in the first place since it is constructed of plywood and 1/2-inch hardware cloth, and to our eyes it did not appear that a mouse could get in unless the door was open, and the door is only open when I’m letting Violet in and out. We decided that the mouse must have moved in before Violet started setting when we used to keep the door open so that the ladies could get used to the broody pen by going in and out. I guess it doesn’t really matter so much how the mouse got in, just that I wanted it out of there before the eggs hatch next week.
We started removing items from the broody pen one at a time looking for the mouse. When we removed the short wooden platform we saw the cutest little mouse. It ran to the corner of the pen looking for an escape route, but there wasn’t one. Sean scooped the mouse up with a rake and threw it out into the chicken yard, hoping for a little game of chicken and mouse. But the ladies can be a skittish bunch, and the sight of a rake being flung into the pasture caused them all to go running in the opposite direction. The mouse took shelter under the walkway ramp up to the chicken coop. I picked up a stick and swept it under the ramp, and in the blink of the eye the mouse ran out from under the ramp and scurried out of the chicken pasture through the chicken wire fence. Of course rodents abound at the farm, and that’s just fine, but we do have a no mouse in the house rule and that goes for the chicken house as well as the people house!