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

Posts Tagged ‘surviving

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

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If you are thinking about visiting Wintervale this weekend to get a taste of forest management and tree removal, don’t for a minute wonder whether you will get to spend some time with our horses or chickens. They are essential ambassadors of the healthy loving energy available here every day.

When I was sitting with the horses in the paddock last weekend, eye-level with the chickens, I captured some images from the atypical vantage point.

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If the horses decide not to wander across the hay-field to see what we are up to by the road, I’ll make sure breaks from the lumberjack work will include a stop at the barn.

The chickens won’t wait. I’ll be surprised if they haven’t offered a greeting before visitors have time to walk away from their vehicles upon arrival. Our three survivors have mastered the ability to show up in a blink, or silently disappear like ghosts when our heads are turned.

I expect that has contributed to their free-ranging longevity.

On Tuesday, as I made the final turn onto our road coming home from work, I spotted a stray dog that looked very guilty and appeared to be chewing on something at the edge of a recently harvested corn field. I was very glad to hear from Cyndie that our three were home, and safe.

Speaking of potential threats to chickens, Cyndie says she and Delilah came upon a bobcat recently while on their morning walk. It gave them a moment of a stare, and then bounded off into the woods. This was before Cyndie had opened the coop for the day, so the chickens weren’t immediately at risk.

Honestly, I don’t know how they’ve lasted as long as they have since that fateful evening of June 16th when something took six hens before they had settled into the coop for the night.

These three really are survivors.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2017 at 7:00 am