Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just another day on the farm ....


I'm feeding horses, when suddenly I hear a ruckus from the chicken pen. I have the horses almost finished, I peek down and I don't see anything. The ducks, geese, and chickens are standing around, the goose is alarming and the stupid guinea hen is screaming like a banshee from under the shed. But I don' see feathers flying, marauding dogs, or scattering poultry, so figure something fell out of a tree or something scared them, but the guinea doesn't give up easily.

So I quickly untie all the girls, set out their hay, throw Leroys grain in his bucket, fill up his water, throw in his hay. At this point, the kids come wandering up (at dusk) with Panda (my daughters little papillon, who thinks she is big enough to take down a chicken). So I asked if that is what the birds were freaking over, Mandy says yes. I asked how long she they have been out there, she says: "Oh, we just came up". Great. So I have no idea what is down in the chicken coop at dusk, so I tell the kids to get in my barn and shut the door. "In my barn" consists of an area about 5 feet wide by 10 feet long, much like a coffin if the door is closed.

I don't see anything, so come back up to my barn (this is all uphill/downhill, of course), to grab my flashlight so I can look under the coop, where the guinea is screaming. Mandy can't get the latch to work, so she is tying the door shut with baling twine, ever the little girl scout she is. Back down with the flashlight, I see nothing under there. Then I notice the goats are staring over by the woodpile. I turn to my left, and there is a hawk on the ground. I hear some skwawking, but the thing isn't moving, it looks like it has its head caught in the wood (stupid me). I had brought down my lunge whip (lol) as a weapon. Vic was away, so I had no reinforcements.

I see a lot of white feathers under the hawk. Great, it got the gimpy old chicken. This chicken is 6 1/2 years old, and is something of a fixture now. She is gimpy, and can't walk well. I pick her up and put her out of the coop every morning because she can't jump down the stairs with her bad legs, and she can't roost anymore either, she hasn't for years. I knew this day would come.

So I'm decided to try to get the hawk off the chicken, and I bop it on the back with the whip, assuming it would fly away. Wrong. So now I'm thinking its dead, broke its neck against the woodpile or something. Then I see it pull a hunk of feathers out of the chickens neck, its alive.

The kids come out, and coming down the hill. I tell them a hawk got the white chicken. Well, we've lost chickens before, and the kids didn't freak. My daughter starts crying uncontrollably, sobbing hysterically "Not the white chicken!!!!!!" What can I do? I've got the flashlight on this hawk, that is staring right at me, and refusing to move. I'm bopping it with the butt end of the whip (not trying to hurt it, but get it off the chicken). Finally I get the whip under a wing and flip it off the chicken, the chicken picks its head up and starts squawking!!!! What a horrible sound, but the chicken is alive!

So now I'm thinking, oh gosh, the thing is suffering, probably half eaten alive and torn apart, and I can't put it out of its misery, and Dr. Kevorkian (a/k/a my husband) is not around to do the dirty deed for me, I'm already going through my mind who I can call to do it so the thing doesn't have to suffer.

The hawk is still staring me down, its now good and dark, and the thing refuses to move. It comes closer, I push it away again. I sent the kids in the house "GET IN THE HOUSE!!! NOW!!!!!!, cuz I can't even think with them screaming and crying uncontrollably.

Now the hawk has hopped up on the bottom step of the coop, and is still staring me down, refusing to leave its meal. The chicken is just sitting there (smart chicken), didn't move at all, I'm thinking its mostly dead. I get the whip under the hawks wing again (after tapping it on the back a few times and swishing it through its legs in an attempt to convince it to fly off) and I flip it again and it moves next to the steps in a little corner, with its head down. I'm thinking "hmmm, this is kinda weird behavior, but what do I know about hawks? They don't get rabies, I don't think."

So the hawk is slunk in a corner, I pick up the chicken, it looks like a feather pillow got ripped apart all over the ground. I take her into the coop for a quick inspection. She has one gash on her wing about 2 inches long, and one puncture under her right ear. That is it. So I packed the wounds with neosporin, and I need to put her somewhere that the other chickens won't peck at her wounds. We have a big rabbit cage just for this purpose, its around 4 feet long by 2 feet wide, and it also broods chicks. And I have to get the coop closed up before the hawk comes in after the little chickens, but in order to do that, I have to feed the goats first, or they will beat the door down , and I'm afraid to put the chicken down or she'll get pecked, or the hawk will come after her again.

So all with the white chicken tucked under my left arm, I fill the goats bowls, get them fed, get the door closed, and drag the rabbit cage from outside the coop, to inside. I have to bed it down with hay. Meanwhile Bunner and Sherry (goose and his girlfriend) want to get in the coop, but the hawk is blocking their path. Bunner is trying to run through the fence, but of course only his head and neck make it. Duh. He's hollering, which is deafening, so is Sherry (who is a 5 month old female goose), the rest of the chickens have all gone in the coop for the night, it is, after all, dark now.

So I take white chicken with me, figuring that little hawk won't go after a big goose, over to the shed to get hay to feed the goats and bed her cage down, I get her settled in the cage, and Bunner and Sherry are still freaking, and the damn hawk is still sitting there.

The section of fence where the hawk is sitting is not attached to the side of the coop, it is there as sort of an emergency door (good thing), its just hooked to a screw. So I take the fence down, and lay it on top of the hawk. The hawk jumped through the holes ,and is now in the chicken pen, and staring at the door (as if I would let it in??? duh). Its refusing to move, despite my prodding with a lunge whip, I'm flipping it with the whip trying to get it to move, and it stands its ground, staring me down. Then Baby Goat turns around from her grain bowl, looks square at the hawk, snorts, jumps up in the air, and head butts the hawk, sending it flying!!!! It took off and flew up into a tree.

Bunner and Sherry were still too freaked out to go through the open fence, and were just too confused about how to get back in, so I had to go pick up Bunner, and carry his 25 lb. squirming self into the coop, and hope that he didn't decide to take exception and bite me or beat me with his wings, and hoping Sherry would follow. Of course she didn't, so I had to catch her too, and put her in. And Bunner didn't bite me or beat me with his wings. He's actually quite a smart goose, and he will let me pick him up when he knows he needs help, usually he is stuck behind a fence and can't figure out how to go around. Even though he will bite me if he thinks it is warranted.

So that was my evening.

I've ordered in pizza.

As a post script to this story, its been about 4 weeks since this happened. The white chicken is healing well, and was beginning to peck at herself in her hospital isolation cage after about 10 days or so. So for her safety, she is now living in the rabbit pen with Dengi, the rescued bunny (he was brought to us living in a Rubbermaid bin). Dengi is VERY happy to have a cellmate, if you know what I mean. I expect fluffy white chicks with long floppy ears should be hatching out soon .....

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