PRATIE PLACE

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meanwhile, down on the farm....


... the animal kingdom is one problem after another.

Julius the dog is still scratching after my son got him the expensive flea medicine...

Hector the donkey has decided he no longer cares if he's near Jethro (remember, I GOT Hector specifically to be Jethro's friend). Since Hector is small and wiley he slips out of the fence and spends all day eating the grass while Jethro watches him woefully from behind the fence...

The worst thing is the chickens, it seems they suffer their worst tragedies in the summers. One summer the electronic eye door opener battery died when the door was in the down position, and the chickens died of the heat. Another summer the battery died in the up position while I was out of town, and a raccoon went into the coop and killed eight chickens, leaving their guts strewn all over the place and bloody raccoon prints on the inside of the door in case I wasn't sure of the culprit.

This time the carnage began with one of my beautiful barred rock hens upside down dead in the driveway one morning. The next night four chickens just - disappeared. And after that the chickens didn't want to go in their coop any more. A week later, four more disappeared, and sadly, one of them was my most senior hen, a glorious glossy black matron who adopted the one chick who survived a harrowing trip from Ohio -- the United States Post Office left these chicks somewhere for an extra day and by the time the box got to my post office, it contained five corpses and one living chicken shrieking her head off - I put her with the black hen and they were inseparable and adorable for a week and a half, until the adoptive mother was killed one morning...

We decided maybe it was foxes or coyotes coming in the early morning hours and waiting outside the coop for the door to open, then the chickens walked right out into the predators' jaws...

So in the storms these last nights, no chickens at all went to the coop. Ezra and I put on our rain jackets and prowl around the house with flashlights, looking for them. Last night I found all the remaining hens but one and stuffed them all in the hen house and closed the door.

This morning I went down and manually opened the door. And it was like one of those British murders in the study behind the locked door - even though I'd closed the door myself at night and opened it in the morning, somehow after six years of my coop being a reliable safe house (except when the batteries fail), suddenly now some predator has figured out how to get into the coop, kill a chicken and eat it all but the feathers and the feet, and leave again. How? It's a mystery.

I have gotten so much joy out of my chickens but now that we appear to be running a buffet for carnivores, the fun is gone. I may have to give up.

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