Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon

Injured Bird
Photo by Amabel 
Harry looked so lovely in the hen house on Friday.  But I spoke too soon.  Sunday was a sad day around these parts.  The terrier duo killed one chicken and injured another.  We are now nursing a Buff Orpington hen.  I am not sure if she'll make it (her bandage is hiding a deep cut), but I feel a little more hopeful after talking with a local chicken expert today.  For those of you who are tired of reading about chickens, I apologize. 

We had a group of family over on Sunday.  After lunch everyone went swimming, and the dogs were with us.  Eventually we all got out of the pool and went out of the gate, leaving Harry and Nancy still enclosed in the fence.  I went inside with my sister-in-law Lara to get dry clothes for the kids and then we started cleaning up the kitchen.  Suddenly (was it five minutes later, ten minutes later?) I heard Amabel yelling that cousin Philena saw the dogs attacking the chickens (did she actually see them or just hear them?).  I went flying down the path towards the coop, wondering how the dogs got out of the pool fence (we often leave them "safely" confined in there when we are around outside).  Near the coop, I found Harry and Nancy on either side of a very frightened chicken.  Philena had already grabbed Harry (how long had she been holding him?).  My brother Chris grabbed Nancy (or did I grab Nancy?).  I rushed the dogs back up to the house before I went back down to survey the scene.  

It was brutal.  At first I could only see two Barred Rock hens (the girls very favorite pair of speckled "giraffes"), huddled in a corner of the coop.  But then I spotted what was once a gorgeous black Australorp, in a heap on the ground, feathers scattered everywhere.  After looking around a bit, I discovered a shy little Buff Orpington with a huge chunk of feathers missing from her neck, hiding out under a bush (that would be the chicken in the photo above).  None of the other chickens were around and I thought for a few minutes that we only had the two giraffes left.  I started sobbing and went up towards the house.  The girls started sobbing.  The boys continued looking for the rest of the chickens.  

Fortunately, cousin Julien soon found a group of birds under a mulberry tree and eventually the last missing chicken (the twin Australorp) found her way back into the coop.  Jeffrey helped me bandage the injured bird and set up a recovery dog crate in the basement.  Chris and I buried the black beauty while Lara did some art therapy with the children.  It helped to have so many hands around to manage the crisis, but I still felt exhausted for the rest of the day.  Exhausted and embarrassed.

Embarrassed because I've been trying to teach Harry not to eat the birds.  And I was so proud of him.  But who am I kidding?  He is a terrier.  And when he and Nancy get together, they are a whole pack of terriers.  And they have instincts.  Instincts and no shame.  I spent a whole day being mad at them, but what's the use?  Oh, furry murderers!  You drive me crazy.

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