Slaughterhouse Rules

It was a bloodbath on the “farm” this morning.  I walked out on the deck for my early a.m. survey of the land to a scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Holy Hannah, what a mess!

At first I didn’t notice. It was still pre-sunrise and the only thing that was odd was seeing the dog bolt off into the woods like a bat out of hell. She just never does that. Okay, she does, but only after a bear. Like the rest of us, she’s an Urban Refugee, a Rottweiler from the city, not your typical farmhouse breed. As I walked to the edge of the woods, bellowing her name, I saw it.

While I stood there, gobsmacked, I heard the phone ring inside the house. Who the hell’s phoning me THIS early in the morning? You know the early I’m talking about. Like, when you hear the phone ring THAT early you think to yourself “Someone better be dead or in jail”.
Death, he was a-calling.

“Hello?”
“Hey!”
“G’mornin’ Mike”
“So…ahhh, you guys missing a white chicken?”

Two white ones to be exact. And a red hen. And two ducks. Although to be honest, only the ducks are actually missing. The red hen and one white chicken are still here, pieces of them at least. The other white chicken, well she’s not exactly “missing” anymore either, since Mike just called to inform me that he is watching her travel down the road past his place in the jaws of a fox.

There are feathers everywhere. Not duck feathers mind you, just chicken feathers. Now before you start thinking the ducks have just “flown” the coop, let me tell you a little bit about them. Quacky and Yacky are Rouen Ducks. They’re cousins of the Mallard, in fact they look like Mallards, but are a fancy domestic breed. They’re very showy and colourful, but are as clumsy as all get out. You see, Rouens can’t fly. They are physically incapable of flying. They have very large bodies, disproportionate with the rest of them and therefore, can’t get off the ground. This is where the mystery of their disappearance lies. How the HELL did the fox get them out of the coop?

A quick look around shows the coop door closed up tight, the outside pen fully intact and nothing but a small hole tunnelled under the door about as big around as a softball. I can understand the idea of Mr. Fox getting the chickens through that hole, but the ducks? The whole idea of it is pretty bizarre, since the fox would also have had to get inside the pen, that is inside the coop. Once inside the door you have to go up two steps and through another gate (the top of which is 8′ off the ground) before you’re actually in with the animals. If it wasn’t for seeing the fox while I was out there, who wishes to clean up his mess and claim his kill, and the phone call from Mike, I would never have believed it was a fox who pulled it off. I’m hoping the trauma of the ordeal doesn’t affect the remaining chickens much, cleaning up feathers is one thing. Cleaning up traumatized chickens, completely different.

I’m a little heartbroken, Quacky and Yacky were pets, as were, for the most part, the chickens. But, life goes on, nature continues to take its course, and I’ve got a hell of a mess to clean up after breakfast.

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7 Comments

  1. March 30, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Oh how horrible, not a good way to start the day!
    What a cunning fox, how did he get in????

    • March 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      As of yet, we haven’t figured it out. We did however, find a survivor! Sadly though, not one of the ducks.

  2. willowbatel said,

    March 31, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Oh those poor birds! I hope it was at least a momma fox getting food for her young. I know foxes bury their food, but that fox would’ve had to come back several times to get all of them. Why weren’t the chickens up in the rafters like normal? Wouldn’t they just stay there out of reach?
    It’s odd how much death there’s been despite it being spring. I haven’t heard any baby birds chirping or anything like that. I only just saw two slugs (perhaps the only two in our yard) mating the other day. The people before us were avid pesticide users so there aren’t any snails, slugs, or even earth worms in the yard. The only worms we have are the short little red ones. Speaking of which, how’s your worm-pile-thing going?

    • April 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

      There’s sooooo many unanswered questions about the whole thing. I think the chickens were so spooked they were all sort of just flailing about, squawking and flapping like they do when they’re disturbed. I can imagine the timing probably had something to do with why they weren’t in the rafters. It would have been feeding time within minutes of me going out on the deck, and were probably down on the floor waiting for fresh water and to be let out.
      It’s pretty sad there was so much pesticide use in the past in your yard. Eco-systems really take a beating sometimes. Try to think positive Willow, perhaps we’re on the cusp of a natural rebirth? As hard as it is, you’re a little more intune with death at the moment, kinda like BOB. You’re going to be more sensitive to its occurance.
      The worm pile is building, no worms yet, as it’s still below freezing evening to morning and there isn’t enough heat being generated yet by the compost to keep the worms alive. Hopefully soon though!! On a happy note, I’ve begun my seeds for the gardens, which have me veryveryvery excited!

  3. willowbatel said,

    April 1, 2010 at 2:18 am

    That’s such a shame. Are you planning on getting more chickens soon? Maybe a rooster this time too? That way you won’t have to go and buy chickens, you’ll be able to just make more. Plus aren’t the males supposed to be a little more defensive than the females?
    That’s what my mom said. But it’s SPRING. Everything is supposed to be coming back to life right now. Not dying. Things die in the fall and winter. My mom will just reply that spring is about rebirth, which I get but still…
    I really don’t like not having slugs and worms in the yard. I used to hate how many slugs we had at our old house (whenever it rained we would always have two+ dozen in the yard mating) but now I’m sad at how few we have. Do you think anyone sells banana slugs? They’re the native species and you don’t see them around very often. Hmm… I wonder if I could breed them and sell them to national parks… We do have quite a few lady bugs (maybe birds also [I don’t know the difference]) around though, which I’m very excited about.
    Wow you’re seeding already? I haven’t even started seeding yet. At least not the food things. I’ve put some seeds of flowers and things in the dirt, but nothing edible yet. We got a ton of seeds from my aunt though, so I’ll have to get those in the ground ASAP. That’ll be a project for the weekend.

  4. April 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    […] living in packs, the weakest link is lunch. We’re quite surprised she’s still alive. I realize now I never did post that update on the massacre. Let’s just say, I found Tessie under the deck and her tail feathers aren’t as fluffy […]

  5. July 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

    […] pain-in-the-ass that was the ducks, sadly came to an end the morning the fox invaded, and life in the wood-shed slash chicken coop became a little easier to live. But then, enter […]


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