Several weeks ago as we were coming home, we noticed two animals frolicking in the driveway. The Man identified them as weasels. Most of us had never seen weasels in real life before, so that was exciting. We think that our pair are long-tailed weasels.
A few weeks later when M's nightly egg collection dropped off to nearly nothing, we suspected the weasels. After some encouragement, he started making frequent trips to the hen house during the day. Sure enough, the first day of frequent trips produced 11 eggs.
Since M has more important things to do than make hourly trips to the hen house, the other children are often sent and come back with tales of weasels in the nesting boxes eating the eggs. Our field guide states that weasels are beneficial animals. If they really are as great at taking care of rodents as the experts say, we would love to have them on our property. We certainly don't mind sacrificing a few eggs now and then to help control the ground squirrel population.
M went home with some friends after church today, so S went to gather the eggs when we got home. We were all surprised when he came back with seven since we had been gone for nearly five hours (potluck today at church). After my nap :) I sent J out to check for some more eggs. He came back with the report of the hen/weasel fight in the hen house and a punctured egg in the nesting box. Both creatures were ruffled, but the weasel ran off when J entered the hen house.
Now what do we do? We do have a small live trap that we could set under the hen house tonight baited with eggs...but then what? So far, they haven't actually harmed any of chickens. Of course, it is a holiday weekend, so I can't get any advice from fish & game until Tuesday. By that time, I might as well wait for The Man to return on Wednesday.
I'm pretty sure that our hen house, which is up on blocks with a wood floor, is weasel-proof at night when the doors are closed. Those hens have shown that they can be mean when they need to be during the day. I guess we will try to wait it out unless the weasels prove they are after more than just our eggs!