Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘chicken survival

Three Survivors

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It was hard to avoid the harsh reality of our decimated flock of chickens when we returned to Wintervale yesterday afternoon. It was the first opportunity I was able to spend any time in daylight to finally see some of the areas of lost feathers marking where 22 chickens had been snatched.

As I was cleaning up three days of manure in the paddocks, I spoke out loud to myself when I spotted the distinct feather markings of Buffalo Bill. It looked like he didn’t give in without covering a bit of distance.

The poor horses must have seen this whole attack unfold. I hope they weren’t overly stressed by the incursion happening within their fenced confines. Maybe they were able to recognize only the chickens were being targeted.

We had asked our animal-sitter to keep the three surviving pullets shut in the coop until we returned after the weekend so she wouldn’t have to fret over their vulnerability.

Now we are faced with deciding if we are going to continue that practice or not. It’s sad but neither Cyndie nor I seem to have much will to invest any more hope toward an imagined future for them with us. I hate to think this way, but part of me wonders if it would have been easier if these three didn’t survive.

Cyndie buttoned up the fence boundaries of the coop courtyard in the two places where we had created the openings for those couple of days of free-ranging before the attack. We let the three prisoners out into the fenced space for a few hours.

I wondered if the coyotes were skulking around the edges of our property watching to see what we were doing. The last four times we have lost chickens happened shortly after we had gone back into the house. That can’t be by chance. The predators have to be watching to see when we are out and when we are not.

If I thought it would help, and if we somehow decided to have chickens again in the future, I’d make it a practice to always come back outside and check on things a few minutes after having gone in the house.

I wish we could offer the three survivors some consolation for the trauma they endured. Standing within the fencing with them yesterday, it was easy to see the new anxiety they exhibited over sudden movement and unexpected sounds. They were very jumpy birds.

Maybe these three had honed their emergency response hiding tactics better than all the rest. It’s sad that I had just written about the flocks’ impressive rush for emergency cover a mere two days before the massacre. I suspect that would protect them better against an assault from the air than the packs of fangs coming after them on the ground.

If those three survivors could talk, I wonder what they would have to say about the traumatic events of last Wednesday around dinner time.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Thriving Eight

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Despite the risk of jinxing the prosperity that our eight chickens have been enjoying all summer, I can’t help myself flaunting their surprising continued free-range survival on these unprotected acres.

Two Black Australorps, three Golden Laced Wyandottes, and three Buff Orpingtons continue to thrive. They’ve had pasty butts, gotten broody, chosen “unauthorized” nesting sites, and survived last year’s harsh winter and this summer’s heavy thunderstorms. They lost a sibling to a devious possum and dodged an eagle that I saw swooping through the trees in a failed attempt to grab one of them.

That last fact now triggers a new level of anxiety whenever we spot one of the many bald eagles in the area circling low overhead, which I have witnessed them doing twice recently.

Still, our chickens hang together for the most part and seem genuinely happy about their lives.

I did find a “soft” shelled egg in one of the nest boxes yesterday, so one of the hens might be dealing with some new anomaly.

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Is This Possible?

From the potentially too-good-to-be-true files, yesterday I heard tell of an entity that pays decent money for space to place unwanted horses. A salesman who stopped by to deliver a quote on replacing the boards on our deck told wonderful stories about his days as a racehorse owner.

He described an acquaintance who couldn’t afford her property and was planning to move, until some company contacted her and offered to pay a reasonable amount to use her barn and fields to keep their unwanted/rescued horses.

“Heck, yeah, I’m interested!”

He promised to look into it and forward a name and/or number we could contact. Can’t hurt to inquire. If they supply the hay and pay to use the barn and pastures, I would be happy to accommodate them.

My inner skeptic is not quite as inspired as the rest of me, but I won’t let that prevent my creative imagination from visualizing unbelievable possibilities.

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Near Miss

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Are you as amazed as I am that our three chickens continue to survive ranging freely around our property, despite our having done nothing different to protect them in the time since some predator decimated the flock of nine birds?

It almost seems counter-intuitive that something would attack the large group of birds, but now no critter has bothered with the three that remain. Maybe with such low numbers, it isn’t worth the trouble of stalking them compared to the easier pickings of attacking a large flock.

None of this factored into Delilah’s thinking yesterday.

While Cyndie and I were unloading bales of hay from the pickup and stacking them in the shed, we let Delilah hang out with us to watch. Cyndie had hooked the leash to the front of the truck.

Meanwhile, the three chickens wandered over to peck at the mess of hay shrapnel that falls from the bales. I’m guessing they were growing used to seeing the leashed dog and didn’t feel particularly threatened.

Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine, until Cyndie decided the charade had gone on long enough. She told me that she meant to shoo the chickens away and was planning to remove Delilah from the captive spot to take her for a walk and get her away from the constant tease of free roaming chickens, which surely was tempting fate.

Except that the moment Cyndie processed that thought, (when I think she may have indeed made some sound toward the chickens to back them off) Delilah exploded against her restraint and ruptured the webbing of the harness that held the ring to which her leash was hooked.

Delilah chased, the birds panicked, and Cyndie and I both screamed at the dog with all our energy. The chickens ducked the fence into the paddock, which slowed Delilah a bit, and by the time I got down off the stacked hay in the shed, the dog had paused her pursuit a short distance beyond that fence.

Was she really listening to us? Cyndie thinks so. She declared it a partial victory, because Delilah did choose to stop the chase and did, hesitatingly, come back to us. We were able to hook the leash to a different ring on her harness and Cyndie walked her to the house to confine her until she calmed down.

Disaster averted, but not for lack of trying.

Those three birds must have some special luck that they escaped unharmed again. Or maybe they have a cat’s nine lives. Yesterday seemed like the kind of ruckus that probably used up a life for a couple of our surviving birds.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2017 at 6:00 am