Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Comedy/Tragedy of Rural Life

Lady Cluck, our favourite hen, survived the attack.

Last night as we were watching a movie at about 11:00 p.m., we heard terrified chicken-shrieks outside. My husband threw his size 11 (men's) feet into my mom's size 8 (ladies') Crocs, grabbed the axe, and tore outside. I followed in my red plaid rubber boots, and an apron that I hadn't removed after dinner, wondering what he planned to do with the axe...chop up a raccoon?

Because our children dismantle/wear out the batteries of every flashlight that crosses the threshold, we had to rely on the motion-sensitive porch light to guide us. We saw loads of reddish feathers at the barn door, then saw that the door of the coop had blown shut which meant that the hens weren't able to get into it at dusk.

We quickly found several hens, who seemed to instinctively stay very still, pressing their bodies as close to the ground as possible. We were still short a few, plus the roosters, so continued wandering around our small farm in search of the traumatized birds. Chickens are just so darn vulnerable.

The young rooster (Big Boy) was up by the firepit. I didn't know how fast roosters can run until last night. They run REALLY fast. His instinct was to lure us AWAY from the coop, so try as we might, we couldn't corral him towards a place of safety.

Such a handsome devil, isn't he?

I don't suppose it helped that my husband was chasing him, axe in hand, loudly cursing the hen that laid him. I knew I shouldn't be laughing at this dramatic moment, but I couldn't help myself. Just when we'd creep up to the rooster, he'd tear off in a crazy zigzag. At one point, Big Boy disappeared into the chest-high grass around our pond...imagine my long-legged husband, high-stepping through the foliage, trying to track the intermittent waving and rustling that traced our fugitive's cunning path...

We finally gave up on the roosters, trusting them to fend for themselves for the night.

The "boys" alerted us that they had survived the night with a 5:30 a.m. crowing contest loud enough to wake the dead. So, out I went in my nightgown and rubber boots, and tried to chase the bugger into the coop. I managed to entice "The Boss" with some kitchen scraps, but Big Boy was having none of it. I went back to bed, closed the windows and turned the fan up a notch, praying that my neighbours wouldn't complain...

It looks like we're down three hens, although we haven't found any corpses. Lesson learned: no more leaving the lock up till after dusk.

PS...I've never considered myself a violent person. But if I had had a gun last night, I would have shot that predator if we'd seen him. Alas, if I had a gun, my roosters, too, would now be dead, shot in mid-crow.

22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. We had a fox attack our chickens the day of my Alpaca shearing. We had just finished and were relaxing when we heard the ruckus. We chased the fox into the neighbors yard who happened to be mowing. He tried mowing the fox. The fox ran away and we saw it around for another week then he disappeared. I hope he met another neighbors gun because I don't want it around my chickens...or alpacas.

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  3. Dear Anonymous...
    I don't remember blogging about the bird issue, so assume you're a facebook friend...I do try to keep the topics somewhat separate in these two very different spaces (one is semi-private, the other is open to the world at large)...while I get what you're saying, I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't refer to my facebook updates in this space. Thank you!
    Stephanie

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  4. When I was relaying (ha!) the story to Eldest, she worriedly asked if Lady Cluck went missing. Once I sought clarification on who Lady Cluck was, I was able to confirm her survival, much to Eldest's relief.

    You tell a great tale, my friend. And I'm sorry for your loss. Chickens can be an endearing lot...and to meet such an end! Awful.

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  5. Oh my gosh. Your stories so often mirror my own!! Sadly,however, we lost our favorite hen, "Mama" in our worst attack. Had to laugh at your DH in your crocs though! Great mental picture!!

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  6. I still giggle at this story but I too feel sorry for your loss. We have been debating about getting chickens and after meeting yours very recently I am in love! They were beautiful and so entertaining. I must send you some photos in email. I would like to post some to my blog as well, but I will check with you first...K

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  7. ahhh yes, a very funny tale around the sad sight of a pile of feathers! We've been spared the loss of chickens but yesterday morning one of our two white lambs is missing. Upon counting, (which is difficult when most of our black lambs are identical)...we think we may be missing a few more...A big wolf in the back pasture last week...Co-incidence...I think not!

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  8. OH- Stephanie! You tell a good tale, indeed, and it is so easy to visualize! I am laughing at the images and also sad for the loss of your pretties. (my girls will be happy to know that Lady Cluck is okay, too)
    Again, thank you for sharing your stories with all of us!

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  9. Steph, I love reading about your trials and tribulations on the homestead. It is sad when we loose loves ones (yes, pets are loved ones) to predators. As much as I believe in that whole "circle of life" thing it still sucks!

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  10. I forgot to say that I love your new top photo of the sunflower! GLORIOUS!

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  11. I remember trying to round up unruly chickens in the dark. Your description made me laugh out loud. I hope you find your hens....I would hate not knowing what happened to them. Your tale makes me lust for chickens of my own. I might just start secretly keeping them even though my HOA forbids it!

    Stephanie
    www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

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  12. Great story....unfortunate there wasn't a camera crew to capture this delightful tale on film.........
    P.S All commenters should identify themselves especially if their comments are like those of "anonymous" above. I am sure if you have an issue, Homestead Girl would gladly have a talk with you in person.

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  13. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that those three MIA birds come wandering home around dinner time - skittish, perhaps but still alive. Always the optimist, I am. ;-) I do Love the names you've given your chickens.

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  14. I can just see the rustling of the long grass.I think I'd be so mad I'd hit the rooster instead ha,ha.If I caught him. God bless husband.

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  15. You are such a great storyteller. It is so great to check in and see what has happened in your world.
    Hopefully the chickens have returned...no harm done.

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  16. They may still come back..mine did for 3-4 days after a dog attack. Sorry about the loss-it's so hard! We had an eagle or owl attack several times last year-it was so hard on our kids!

    Cheers!

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  17. PS...thanks for all your comments! At last count, we had 19 chickens (roosters included) which means we didn't lose ANY of them...although someone lost a considerable amount of feathers! Needless to say, we're thrilled.

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  18. Sorry about the drama...how funny we were both searching for flashlights! I've decided to put one under my bed hidden from little hands. :)
    That is an awfully pretty rooster!
    xoxo

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  19. I just love this photo of your feathery friends - http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=14020597&l=bf426d029c&id=872780225

    K

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  21. we just lost two hens and have an injured one in our dining room as i type. i fell asleep watching a movie with the hubby and completely forgot to secure the coop...*sigh* i can't find where the wound is on this girl, i'm hoping it's not internal. she's barely eating, but is drinking and i put B vitamins and electrolytes in her water, plus gave her a homeopathic remedy for shock. her spirit seems brighter today, but i don't know. she's not standing on her own. i'm hoping for the best, but we are preparing to say goodbye if need be. at least we know she's comofortable and she knows she's not alone out there....

    it's a lesson learned and definitely just something us chicken folk deal with from time to tome. my oldest girl told her little sister, "that's just life xi...the circle will continue..."

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