Archive | September, 2013
1 Sep

Yesterday started out like any other………Wake up before dawn, have coffee, check the news.  When the sun comes up let the girls out so they can free range, check food, check water, the good morning routine.

I had a million things to do before the sun got too hot, so I didn’t visit with the girls like I usually do.  Giving everyone a good eyeballing, the head count, a little hand feeding, I just didn’t have time.

I went out into the pasture and leisurely made a 60 foot row for the squash plants Kenny had purchased 2 days ago, to replace the last of our seeds that I failed to get started (they were a little old to begin with).  I took my time because I don’t like rushing through the planting process, I wanted to get the paper nice and tight, and it was early morning — a time that I greatly enjoy being out playing in the dirt.

Halfway through getting the paper down nice and tight I heard a strange “thud” noise.  I immediately went to investigate due to a recent pecan limb that fell on top of our brooder house/pen…….

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Lovely, right?

As of today, the limb is still where it landed for a couple of reasons: 1. the end that broke off is stuck in the crook of the two main trunks of the tree approximately 15 feet up in the air.  2.  About a week ago I put 15, 7 weeks old babies plus Georgia inside this pen and I’m not exactly ready or have a place to relocate them.  Georgia has not yet enticed the babies up the ramp and into the house, therefore catching them would be most traumatic for everyone.  I will have to get the little boogers into the house to make catching easier.  3.  I’m afraid that whilst taking down the limb the pen will be damaged or destroyed and so must “move the entire flock” before removal of the limb.  4.  and finally I’m waiting on some big hulking, strapping son-in-laws to come visit to get the job done.  5.  Kenny and I both checked the security of the limb and it’s pretty much there for the long haul so I am thinking I have time to figure out where and when to move the whole brood.

So I hear the “thud” and my first thought is great another limb fell.  I get just close enough to check out the area (visually), see nothing out of the ordinary and go back to my squash row.  I vaguely recall seeing Stella’s head poke out from the laundry room, looking at me (like, what mom?).

Squash row completed, planted and watered and I was one beat old woman.  Hot, tired and sweating like all get out.  I go into the house chill out, get a bit to eat, have coffee, and watch a movie.

Now, normally on any given day the a/c is turned off and the back door is left open.  Stella likes to go in and out with every sound she hears, or cat she sees across the street.  Doesn’t matter that she can’t ever, ever, ever “get to the cats”, whenever she sees one across the road, she absolutely has got to be outside to bark at them from 500 feet away, behind our fence. Like somehow that is going to scare them away.  They of course could care less and don’t even react.

Movie over I tell Stella it’s time to get back outside.  Kenny is watching a movie in the other room so I tell him I’m headed back to the garden.  As I exited the house the thought struck me, who closed the back door?  When I got to the back step something was off.  There were no chickens.  I scanned the yard wondering where they all were.  At that time of day they are always under the maple tree.  Then I spied “Red” our one and only RIR, and 1 Leghorn.  Okay good, so where is Beatrice?  She seems to always know when I am on that back step and comes running from wherever she is to say hi and see if I have any treats.  Dread filled me as I made my way to the back of the yard, past the brooder pen, and the old barn, no chickens anywhere.  As I rounded the corner of the brooder pen and got between the new chicken house and the old barn my heart hit the ground.  There were dead bodies EVERYWHERE!!!!!

Death toll:

Beatrice     my favorite Dominique, the chatter box and flock busybody

4 EE’s         hatched on our farm, 1 found with no head

3 Leghorn     rescued from an abandoned home, 1 found with no head

Rooster Jr.     hatched on our farm

1 Leghorn completely missing, no body found

IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!!!!!

Whatever is was came through the fence that surrounds our entire property (8 acres), very easy to do as the fence is predominantly a 5 strand barbed wire fence. Then came over the 4 foot fence that encloses our back yard which is welded wire 2 inch by 4 inch squares and no there are no holes underneath, as the fence was installed with the chickens in mind and not wanting them to go “under” the wire.

We have seen several different “tracks” in the garden, among those are fox, raccoon, coyote or very large (very large) dog.

As we were “cleaning up” Kenny commented that he found it curious that Stella relieved herself next to one of the dead chickens.  He thinks she was “marking” another animals scent.  Just wish she could tell us what kind of animal she was covering up.

To make our day even better, a couple of hours later I entered the chicken house (for about the 5th time) to check on the 2 EE’s that were hiding in there and found, of all things, a chicken snake!!!  Ugh!!!  I have no clue why but for some reason I ran for the house to get the hubby instead of grabbing the hoe that was easily within my reach.  So of course by the time we got back the dang snake was gone.

Before locking everyone up last night, I put the 4 remaining hens inside of one of the quarantine pens that is inside the big chicken house.  This pen originally had 1 EE that had decided to go broody and was sitting on 3 eggs.  Four hens and 3 eggs inside of a quarantine pen, door closed and locked, inside of a chicken house with all door closed and locked.

Trap set outside the run.

Got up this morning, went out to the big chicken house to let the girls out, feed and water and explain to them they would have to remain in the chicken yard today as I just couldn’t let them free range (yet).  Trap was empty as I suspected it would be, raccoons rarely attack in the day.  What do I find in the quarantine pen:  4 hens and 2 eggs.  No eggs shells, no baby, no nothing.

What the hell?