Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Chickie Tragedy

     Back from Cheyenne, and a long three days of appraising for the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters. (Thanks, dears! Had a great time.)

     Went straight to friends' house to watch the Broncos game. (Who won...a miracle...)  The Brick could not close up the coops before he left, because it wasn't dark yet, and the chickies were wandering around.
     Came home to piles of feathers...two chickens dead and torn apart, and two missing. The Brick and I kicked ourselves and kicked ourselves. We've known a fox has been watching from the fence for weeks. Our neighbor, a fellow gardener, as well as  a beekeeper, saw him peering in from outside.
      Normally, Charley and Abby, our golden labs, are outside when we're gone. But Charley has been suffering so much from allergies the Brick kept both dogs in the house. That, apparently, was all the incentive the fox needed. The chickies put up a battle -- a few made it to the outside edge of the yard -- but no good.
      The rest of the babies were perched, terrified, on the gate to the chickenyard. One of the adults was on top of the big chicken coop -- which has never happened before. The rest of the adults were inside the big coop...also terrified, but intact.
      I felt terrible. These chickens rely on us. How could we have let them down? We buried the two bodies by the raspberry bushes, and figured the other two were goners, as well.



This morning, the Mama kept insisting that she'd heard a chicken kicking up a fuss in the side yard, about 4:30 a.m. (Nobody slept well -- I was up until 2, the Brick got up at 3:30, and the Mama was awake by 4:30 a.m.) We couldn't figure out how, since the surviving chickens were all de coop. I went down and looked. Lo and behold, one of the babies had managed to jam herself up in the bushes. She couldn't get out -- it took nearly a half-hour for the Mama and me to haul her out of there, after cutting branches and getting scratched up ourselves.  All we can figure is that she flew into the bushes in a panic when the fox showed up, and stayed there, quiet, all night, until he came back early this morning. But she was so firmly in there, he couldn't get her out, either.
    The baby was panicky, and a few feathers gone, but walking fine after a little petting and reassurance. I had prayed the night before, asking to find at least one of the chickens alive and ok, but thought it was a stupid thing to ask God for. After all, there was no chance of that happening, was there...

     Well, there was. Thank God.

The Rhode Island Reds were fine...fox didn't want to mess with them, I guess.
UPDATE:  We counted again Monday morning -- 8 out of the ten babies are there, including the Miracle Chick. So we just lost the two...

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