Tag Archives: dogs

Freedom, but at what price?

1 Nov

I keep reading posts from other chicken bloggers that have prompted me to write this story.  Having lived through a chicken massacre, chicken security is a big issue with me.  Beware of things that go bump in the night?………………………….The days my friend, are just as dangerous.

I love my chickens, not as much as my husband or my children, or even my dog Stella, but I do love them.  I make sure they have good food, abundant water and kitchen treats, and they in turn give me those wonderful eggs.  Sad to say, but they are also like a good dose of therapy — no matter what is happening in my life, a visit with the girls has the ability to lower my blood pressure and bring a smile to my face.

There was a dual purpose for our chicken adventure.  Namely bug control in the garden.  I have watched my husband fret over tomato horn worms for years now and even helped pick those little buggers off his precious tomato plants more times than I can count.  Chickens of course would help alleviate this problem, less work for us is always a plus.

Having had chickens in the past I met with a considerable amount of resistance from the man.  He had his fill of chicken security and didn’t want to go there again.  It would be different this time, I encouraged him, we actually  live here now that’s gotta make a difference.   Assuring him that I could come up with predator proof living arrangements for a flock of defenseless animals took some doing.  Then of course there was the statement that had to be made that I wouldn’t “spend a fortune at the Vet’s office” if one of “my” chickens got attacked by something.  Not an entirely true statement, but I had to make it anyway and of course if that ever happens I’ll definitely get the “I told you so” statement in return.

When you live on a farm that has been in the family for multiple generation, the raising of animals (like chickens) comes and goes with each generation.  Many years ago, my mother-in-law (Nana) decided she missed having chickens on the farm and wanted to get her own flock.  Being the good son he was, my husband obliged her by building a 6 foot tall enclosure attached to the old chicken house.  He even went so far as to bury two feet of wire in the ground for their added safety.  Several hens were purchased from the local chicken lady and all was well.   So enjoyable were these new hens we added ducks and turkeys to her flock.

Nana and Maw (her mother) were happy, the chickens were happy, the children loved collecting eggs, we loved eating the eggs–all was right with the world.

NOT!!!

Peace is always disturbed by a phone call, don’t ya know.  The first one came and it didn’t really ring a huge alarm, in my head.  (It’s just a dog after all.  We have dogs, you have dogs, everybody has dogs in the country, except of course Nana and Maw. Chase the thing off and it’ll go home.)  Sure enough after making the short 1.02 mile trip to the farm, no dog.  Unfortunately the phone calls didn’t stop there, they became more frequent and more frantic.  Each time warranted a trip to the farm, inspection of the coop and run, long conversations in the yard–a retelling of the events by Nana and Maw.  One particularly bad incident required 48 stitches to a turkey breast.   Finally, the great white hunter had enough and decided it was time to go a hunting.  Seriously now, he would get all dressed up in his hunting gear and even cover his face with camo paint, then he would go hide himself in various shrubs and bushes at the farm.  He would hunt at dusk, he would hunt at dawn, he hunted so much I forgot what he looked like.  Then one glorious day he returned from the hunt cussing, damn chickens, damn dogs, damn those stupid chickens….Not to be left out I came back with- what the hell happened now?   He proceeded to tell me how he had gotten to the farm at 5 a.m. that morning, went into the kitchen, told Maw morning, got a cup of coffee and then settled himself downwind from the chickens.  He sat in that same spot for near 2 hours and was about to give up and come on home when he spied the culprit down the street.  He watched that dog as it made its way down the driveway headed for the coop.  He got aim on the dog as it paced back and forth along the fence, eyeing the hens, calculating its next move.  When that dog began to dig a hole underneath that damn fence, he popped off a shot and sent that dog running with a butt full of bee-bees.

Oh crap, I said, did you kill it?  Then of course, I got that “have you lost your mind look.”  No I didn’t kill it, he said, But somebody’s gonna be making a trip to the Vets office and I hope it’s costs them a fortune!

Peace returned to the farm…………………………………………or so it seemed.

About 2 months later we went to the farm for Sunday dinner.  We’re in the kitchen having a good time, talking about this, that and the other.  All of sudden Nana says, “Oh something got one of the chickens the other day.” WHAT!!!!!  She had gone out there to feed one morning and collect eggs when she found its body.  Literally just the body inside the fence, no head.  Since there was nothing anyone could do, she just bagged up the carcass and put it in the trash.  Lovely, just lovely.  The great white hunter of course calmly and sweetly read her the riot act.  How on earth could he possibly figure out what “did that” if he has no carcass to inspect.  GROSS!!!

Whatever it was revisited the farm several times over the next 6 months, taking out one bird here and one bird there.  And always the same MO, ripping off the head and leaving the body behind.  According to the great white hunter potential murder suspects included:  raccoons, owls, and weasels (including ferrets, fishers, mink and martens).  My love for animals no longer includes those from the disgusting animal category.  Periodic hunting “trips” were unsuccessful.  Didn’t really matter though, carnage would come soon enough.

The call came bright and early on a Saturday morning.  Frantic doesn’t even come close.  No time for hunting gear today.  It took him less than 2 minutes to grab what he needed and shouted over his shoulder he’d call us when it was done.   This time the weapon of choice held a bullet.  The dog had brought his friends!

I stood at the door in shock and watched as he floored the car down the road.  This is bad, I thought, real bad.  My husband is normally a calm, cool, collected, calculating sort of person.  Mulling every situation around in his head until a solution can be found, to the point that his “procrastination” drives me insane.  You would know the one time he actually answers the phone himself I have no clear picture of what’s happening.  I grab the phone and dial the number for an explanation.

A pack of dogs I’m told have attacked the farm.  They are all over the place!  TEN by head count!  The ruckus was so loud the neighbors called the police, fearing one of the ladies was being mauled in the yard.  They arrived on the scene within moments of each other and quickly surveyed the situation.  The 6 dogs that remained stood breathless and bloody as dead and dying birds lay everywhere.  I can not tell you what went through my husbands mind when the policeman informed him there was “nothing he could do unless he saw an attack with his own eyes”.  As if on cue the lead dog made a mighty jump and landed inside the pen, grabbed a bird and jumped his ass right back out!  (I kid you not!)  The two men eyed each other and words did not need to be said. A service revolver was pulled and shots rang out, injuring the dog who never stopped running with that bird in his mouth.  They pursued him across the street and found him behind a downed log, shots rang out again as the officer finished his job.

I remember getting to the farm and seeing these two men crossing the street as I turned into the driveway, thinking why on earth are y’all over there?  My husband gave me an angry look as I exited the car and shouted for me to get the kids in the house immediately.  When I passed the kids off to Nana and Maw they just shook their heads in disbelief of the morning.  I didn’t have to walk far past the back door to see what carnage lay before me.  Words can not describe the massacre.

These were no feral dogs, my friend.  We’re talking about well fed dogs with collars and tags.  This atrocity was not done out of hunger, this was pure and simple sport!  Anger does not even come close to how I felt about these irresponsible dog owners that thought nothing of letting their beloved pets roam free.   Oh yeah, I forgot, the dog that was shot with our hen in his mouth belonged to a friend of the policeman!

No words could be said as we cleaned up the destruction left behind.  This lovely “pack of pets” left not one bird unscathed!  Of the few that were still alive, their injuries were so severe we had no course of action but to relieve their suffereing.  Damn dogs wiped out our entire flock!

So yea, it took some convincing to get a flock again 10 years later.  Yep, I’m paranoid about security.  For now my girls will have to settle for their extra large coop and their extra large enclosure with it’s 1/4 inch wire fence and chopped greens and weeds from the garden.  I long for the day when we have completed our stock panel fence, as it will encompass not only the 1 acre yard around our house, but the coop and the smaller garden as well.  Crazy me, I am even in the process of planning to hang avian netting “above” that garden so the girls can roam “hawk and owl free”.

For all those chickens lovers out there that “let your girls out” and then “leave to go to work”, you are so much braver than I am, I just can’t take that risk.   I implore you to rethink this practice.

The start of the Llewws

14 Jun

Several years ago my old man was hunting and pecking online and came across the breed of dog that his great-grandfather had many moons ago.  This particular breed, known as Llewellin Setter, was very popular in this part of the country up until the quail disappeared.  Being that these are field bird dogs there wasn’t much point in having them without any field birds to hunt so the breed disappeared with the quail. Since aaaallllll of that was before our time we had never seen one up close and personal, and ya know pictures never do anything justice.  Once he realized the breed was actually still alive and well in the United States he became a little obsessed.  His nightly ritual became researching Llewellin Setters, where they came from, how they got here, what happened to them and of course who had them now.  If you want to know more about the history of the breed go to www.llewellin.com  .

After 6 months of watching him drool over these dogs online, the girls (my children not the chickens) and I decide enough is enough.  The man just procrastinates too much!  We begin to nonchalantly ask him question, what color do you like best, male or female, what are the best blood lines, what breeder do you prefer, and so forth and so on.  As Christmas was approaching we also began looking at actual puppies.  I have always wanted to give and/or get a puppy for Christmas, it looks so neat on T.V. doesn’t it?

The closest breeder with the best bloodline is a 6 hour drive away in Arkansas.  I run through the possibility of hauling butt over there and back…..let’s see 6 hours there, 30 minute stop somewhere to pee and catch a bite to eat, 1 hour at the breeders, 6 hours back, another 30 minute stop in between X 3 or 4 to let the puppy out……15-16 hours total????  Now what excuse can I possibly use to be gone that long?  Nope, not happening, gonna have to fly that little booger in (at Christmas).

Okay here is the deal, in order to put a dog of any size on a plane it has to be above 32 degrees at the point of departure and the point of arrival at the same time.  Let me just say that it took 5 attempts and was 3 weeks after Christmas before that present arrived!  Now the other thing they told me about putting a dog on a plane was that the airline was responsible for taking the dog out of the crate to relieve itself  if the total trip involved stopping along the way.  No really that’s what they told me.  As luck would have it our little guy got stuck in Dallas for 5 hours!  Oh that’s okay, they let him out for a walk remember. Yeah sure.  When he finally arrived they handed me a crate that stunk so bad I gagged.  Oh man I was some kind of afraid to look inside that thing, but you know I had to.  I opened the door and this sweet little face just melted my heart.  He gave me this look like he was trying to say, “I’m so sorry I did a bad thing please, don’t be mad.”  I reached in there to get him out and something squishy met my hand and I knew I had to put him back in, it was bad, it was bad, it was really bad!  There was “stuff” smeared everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  Not one inch of clean anything, including the dog.  Not so much the puppy in a box kind of thing I had in mind.  Merry Christmas Honey!

Dashing Laigen Bondhu (affectionately known as Dash) became the first of many much-loved Llewellin Setters.