Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Chicken Tragedy

I really wanted this site to be fun and fun-loving with recipes and pictures (I'm still working on the pictures....I'm not very camera oriented) and sharing our family and farm life. But I have to talk about a near death experience that happened to some of our chickens yesterday which I'm still upset about (for all you grammar teachers out there....I know you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition....but we had near tragedy at our farm. I'm allowed some errors. OK, back to the story.)

I was preparing supper in the kitchen when my sick, home-from-school 10 year old son heard something on the front porch. It sounded like vigorous thumping. When I went to investigate, I saw two strange dogs tearing up one of our chickens! On our front porch! There were feathers everywhere and the rooster was screaming (I've never heard a rooster scream.....it was kind of hair raising.) I grabbed the broom and kicked/ scooted (well, OK, I guess I really whacked) the dogs off the bird and off the porch. Both dogs sat right down on the very edge of the driveway and smiled at me (you know how some dogs can smile?) as if to ask permission to play with the bird some more! I was so angry! I grabbed one of the dogs by the tags to find the owners information. I called and left a not so neighborly message that included words like "chickens, dogs, murderers, blood, trespassing, gun....". The neighbor called back almost immediately. She was mortified and said all the right things an owner of murdering dogs should say. In the end she picked up the dogs (who were still playing together in the yard, totally unrepentant of what they had just done) and promised to make restitution for my injured animals. When I reviewed the damage, it looks like the rooster will be alright. He had ALL of his beautiful tail feathers pulled out and some fairly deep scrapes along his belly. One of the hens has a couple of superficial puncture wounds in her body and another hen is MIA. The other 9 hens were unscathed except for being completely rattled. This morning they seem alright: talking to each other like usual, scratching, moving around the yard looking for interesting tidbits. I am breathing a sigh of relief ....for right now. I know chickens are funny. Sometimes when they are attacked like this they seem OK one day and the next day they are dead.....infection, post traumatic stress disorder (if I were a chicken I'd have PTSD) or any number of things. The flock is really not worth a lot of money. They are a motley crew of young chickens that I received for free from a family that hatched them last summer, then had to unexpectedly move. But they are an important part of our family shift toward food independence and self sustainability. The hens had just started laying fairly regularly when this happened. And I'm not sure when they'll start laying again. No eggs yet today.

I know that living in the country has it's great moments.....actually, most moments are better than great. I think that's why when something like this happens, it totally shocks and disorients me. I can almost forgive a fox or coon for doing the wild animal thing. But to have some one's pet come into my yard, onto the porch of my house and attack my animals......well that feels more like a violation. I know there are laws protecting my chickens but that doesn't change our immediate situation. I have injured birds and one is probably dead in the forest. My country-boy husband reminded me that I need to get used to the idea of loosing animals unexpectedly. But this seems different. I just wasn't prepared for family dogs to be the marauders. I guess I'll know better next time. And I'm sure there will be a next time.....that's living in the country.

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