We had a big loss on our homestead a few nights ago. It wouldn't be fair for me not to post, as I really want people to know what they are getting into, and have a realistic perspective on homesteading. We lost all 26 of our meat birds. We had them in the tractor without any issues for quite a while. Then, we found the remains of the birds. All 26 had been killed, only a few were taken though. It looks like raccoons sat on top of the wire and were able to bend the wire enough to give them leverage to pull the staples out of the side. It gave them enough room to get into the tractor. Signs around the tractor all pointed to raccoons, and our neighbor killed a large one recently, and we've seen others since. We were heartbroken.
Now, my dad has been a HUGE encourager in our homestead (he's also my beekeeping partner). Dad handed us a check to buy more birds. His advice (Listen very carefully, because this is GOOD ADVICE)--"You know what your weaknesses are. Fix them, and start right back up. Don't let this beat you." He's right.
Because we're short on time, we had to settle for Cornish X birds. We aren't thrilled by that, but we really want to have chicken to eat this winter. We're buying a very heavy gauge wire to put on the chicken tractor, and reinforcing all the weak points.
The big lesson in all of this: it takes a lot to be a homesteader. Sometimes we have to put aside our preferences to take what works best for our situation. We have to overcome the hardships that are inherent to raising livestock. We have to adapt to our surroundings and limitations. Sad days are hard, but the good days are worth it.