Wednesday, July 8, 2009

living closer to nature means nature rules

ewww. That means lovely things like trees, fawns and butterflies, AND less lovely critters like snakes, skunks and possums. Summer relocation has been tough on my hen 'girls'. I was really worried about woodland predators when preparing their run, and put netting over the top to keep out hawks, and made sure no raccoons could get their paws in. And then, the first day in their temporary home, I goofed, left a door open, and three of the girls were attacked by a stray that was hanging out nearby. Poor Silver, Raquel and my darling Baby Madge are no more. I cried and cried, then accepted the way things work -- dogs chase chickens. It's what they do. Everything dies sometime. And chickens are chickens, not children.

My father and I buried them in the woods last week. (Full disclosure -- their bodies were in the deep freezer for two weeks prior to the burial. Morbid humor is still funny.) On the plus side, the incident did result in the stray getting a new home and a name - Blue, for the wild blue eyes. Her new family took her to the vet, where another family identified her as their old dog who had run away. They were happy to see her, and happy for her to stay with the new family. And, of all things, the dog's previous name had been Blue, too!

In any case, the surviving hens, Stormie and Martha Washington (formerly Lacey), are very cautious about leaving the safety of the enclosed coop, even to scratch around in the enclosed pen, so I've gotten into a nice routine of taking a chair and a book out in the evening to sit with them while they range. Yesterday, when I was closing up for the evening and checking for eggs, I found GIGANTIC black rat snake trying to swallow the day's production! Ewww -- can you see the egg inside the snake's jaw? Looks like a golf ball covered in black netting. Yuck.

The short story is that the snake escaped (to steal eggs another day?), the egg didn't (it broke) and I'm reminded that "simple country living" isn't as simple as folks might think.


belinda said...

Hi Anna,

It is so sad when you loose girls.. thier little chickeny personalities always leave a hole.

Kind Regards

Mama said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Belinda. I know many people who have lost hens to illness or predators, but these ladies were the first big losses I've had, poultry-wise.

I hadn't expected to be as fond of silly ol' chickens as I am. Baby Madge was my sweetie -- I nursed her through an eye infection as a chick, though she ended up blind on that side, and she would sit on my finger like a parrot! I miss her. We are getting 2 Delaware chicks and 3 bantam Ameraucana chicks in August, and another adventure begins.