Thursday, 23 February 2012

More Miserable News ...

With the exception of an odd day, the weather here has been pretty miserable recently.  It felt quite surreal to drive in lashing rain which turned the roads into rivers, while listening to news reports about drought in eastern England and the home counties.

I went out last Saturday to pick up a couple of balls of cream yarn, to start pulling my colour play crochet throw together.  I'd intended to use navy, but couldn't find enough balls of one which was not too blackish.  As most of the colours are fairly light or bright, a cream ground will probably be okay.  I did a few squares to test it out, and it does seem to have a lovely light, unifying effect.

A friend shut the chickens away on Saturday evening and let them out Sunday morning, coming back in for breakfast to break the news that she couldn't find Sweeper, my favourite of my 3 cockerels.  Also, that there were fresh white feathers in the barn, but she was sure that we still had both light sussex hens.  Oh dear.  I went out and found that they were indeed light sussex feathers, and I called my hens into the barn to do a head count. All present except for Sweeper, but Shirl had a nasty bite wound on one side and a number of wing and tail feathers missing.  No sign of Sweeper, no answer to my calls.  On walking down the yard, I started to find Sweeper's hackle and then wing feathers in great wet clumps.  Another attack, this time probably on the previous day, when I had been out.  Generally if foxes come up during the day, it's in May-July, when the vixens have cubs and they can hide in the longer grass.  In some mud at the bottom of the yard, I found some prints, bigger and rounder than I would have expected.  Muttering and cursing about big, rogue dog foxes and what I would do to it if I caught it, I wandered into the silage barn.  When I found Sweeper's tail feathers under the ATV, I couldn't stop the tears streaming down my face.

I called him Sweeper because his tail feathers were about 16" long and swept the floor.  One day when he was still a young bird (and I thought he was a she!), I found him quite poorly and dejected with an impacted crop.  I took him into the house, made up a mix of warm water, Greek yoghurt and olive oil and fed him a little at a time, using a pipette.  Much to the annoyance of XP, I sat in the living room watching TV, cuddling Sweeper while I gently massaged his crop, stroked and rocked him until he dozed off.  He slept in a box in my workroom that night and the following morning, he was a lot better.  By the afternoon, his crop was empty again and he couldn't wait to rejoin the rest of the flock.

A further attack and the mystery is solved ...
On Monday morning, there was a terrific rumpus from the chickens, so I bolted outside to sort it out.  I ran through the shed, wrenching my knee and arrived down in the yard; keening with pain, in time to see XP chasing the miscreant - not a fox, but one of our next-door-neighbour's beagles, flying past on its way to get back over the fence, having had a wonderful time, what fun!  It had been in the garden with the head cockerel, Red, in its mouth.  There were Red's tail, wing and hackle feathers in clumps, but no Red.  I went back through the barn, calling the rest of the flock and found Red limping toward me, short of feathers and looking terrified.  I could see more white feathers on my way up to the first field and found Shyannie, also terrified and missing back and rump feathers, hiding in a corner.  XP went up to the veg patch and found several other members of the flock.  There were still a couple of hens missing and I could not find them.  Once Red recovered his composure a bit and started to crow, they found their way back from wherever they were hiding and by early afternoon, all were together again.

My neighbour has apologised and swears that the dog is not going to be allowed to roam loose again.  With lambing underway here, it's just as well.  I just hope my knee is better in time to dance at Majma at the beginning of March.

1 comment:

helen said...

O cariad fach...I am so sorry. I was in floods years ago while house sitting at West Wales Willows, and the fox got in and killed five of the twelve hens. Not a good habit for dogs to get into, and farmers will have no qualms about doing 'something' about it.

Your poor knee...that was the last thing it needed. I hope you manage to have the time to rest it.

Missed you on Friday.....

Take care.
x x x