I had wanted to start the week off writing about my recent trip to Spain and France (as you can probably figure out, I came home with some great stories) or continue with another chapter of Charlotte’s Web. But something happened the night I came back from my trip that takes precedence.
My flock was hit and it was hit hard by a vicious predator.
The night I got back, while I slept (I took some sleeping medication in order to overcome the jet lag) *something* got into our coop. Five chickens were killed outright and four were left wounded. By the afternoon two more had died. That left me with two remaining ones that I thought had a chance.
The damage was frightening. Heads were crushed, beaks were pulled out. On two birds the bellies were opened and the innards eaten. It was a literal blood bath.
I brought the chicken who was most injured into the house and held her all the next night. If she was going to die, at least she’d be able to die wrapped up securely in my arms. Whatever had attacked her did it with mutilation in mind (with all the carnage I’m going with a fisher cat who might have been teaching her kits how to hunt) Her beak had been crushed and all that was left was a few splinters. She had lost an eye, had head injuries and it felt like she had a few broken bones in her wing – she was in bad shape. And yet the next morning she was still alive.
Tenacity like that should count for something right? So I sought advice from my chicken peeps and figured out how to get water and food into her (syringe for the food and drops of water from my finger for the water.)
But a blinded chicken without a beak is a chicken that can’t survive. At some point I realized that I was keeping her alive to assuage my guilt and not to benefit her in any way. Marc and I put her down by way of the cone yesterday afternoon.
The last remaining chicken hurt in the attack was injured but she was up and about eating and drinking, I really thought she’d make it, but this morning at 4 a.m. when my daughter came to get me because she heard a commotion in the coop, I found out that she had died.
Nine members of our flock gone in one attack. Nine.
I can’t tell you how devastating this is.
And how guilty I feel. If I had only not taken the sleeping medication. If I had only been there. If I had only…
We are left with eight spooked members of our flock. The kids and I are going around the coop and reinforcing fencing, locks, and digging out the bedding that has accumulated. If I could dig a deep and wide moat around our coop I would.
A Facebook friend commented that raising chickens is not for the faint of heart.
How true. How absolutely true.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.
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