I guess the first thing happened about a week ago when one of the roaming brown chickens didn't come inside one evening. Several head counts came up with only 18 instead of 19. At bedtime we heard some screeching outside, but couldn't see anything with the flashlight. In the morning, I found a clump of frosty feathers which confirmed my fears.
As I investigated further and followed the trail of feathers, I discovered a stash of eggs hidden behind ladders leaning on the side of the garage. In the end, I found 29 green eggs hidden under each other and leaves. One was cracked open, another had a small crack, but the rest were still intact. I'm guessing this was where the brown chicken had spent most of her time lately.
I decided it was time to start clipping wings.
The next day, things went wrong out with the goats. On the morning run out to feed them, the Guv'nor discovered Harriet the goat was completely tangled up in the flexible electronet fencing. The fence was not only tangled up and torn, but it was completely down along one side. The other goats were watching, but Chelsea and Lola, the dogs, were gone. So much for guard dogs. So much for electric fencing. He discovered later that the battery to the solar charger was dead.
At this point I was summoned to help (as I was the only one to summon). My job was to untangle the fencing. I do love a good challenge when it comes to untangling things like a necklace, but this was overwhelming. Meanwhile Guv'nor rigged a replacement fence and attempted to keep the goats nearby. As if to taunt us, Chelsea and Lola would emerge out of nowhere to jump around and then disappear again. Bad dogs.
I guess it was about this time when we heard a loud ruckus in the direction of the chicken coop. Crowing. Squawking. Metal crashing. I dashed back to the house only to find the chickens scattered around with no clear idea how many were missing. Bad dogs. I locked up the chickens that were already inside the coop, hoping the rest would eventually return.
By the time I got back to the goat pen, Guv'nor had the fencing up and the goats corralled inside. It is hard to describe how difficult (yet slightly comical) it is to corral stubborn goats with horns. The trick is to lead them, if only they would follow! As I returned to my fence untangling job, Lola appeared with blood around her neck. Not enough blood for it to be hers, but enough for it to be something she'd eaten. Soon after Chelsea returned with similar spots on her legs. Bad dogs.
Did I mention how they both smelled like skunks? Or the fact that it was near freezing? Or that the four-wheelers wouldn't start and the Mule broke down? At least it wasn't raining.
Later, all the chickens came back except the rooster. So we figured Chelsea and Lola ate the rooster. Bad bad dogs.
The following day seemed like a repeat of the day before. In the afternoon, the Guv'nor found the fence down again, goats and dogs gone, again. Thankfully, I had enough warning to get the chickens locked up inside, all but one pesky brown chicken that would not come in. And then, as if on cue, I watched as Chelsea and Lola bounded out of the woods, chased the brown chicken and played tug-o-war with her. I arrived, running and screaming, as they tore into her flesh and eventually dropped her. Somehow the poor hen escaped and flew-hobbled away as fast as she could.
She was pretty torn up with a big gash in her side, organs visible. I did the best I could to clean and spray the wound with antiseptic, but I'm really unequipped for this sort of thing. I'm not a chicken doctor. Amazingly, she's still alive and seems to be healing somewhat, although limping.
We had a couple days of calmness, when the Guv'nor noticed that Chelsea wasn't eating. Lola seemed fine. At first we thought she was probably full from eating a rooster and who knows what else out in the woods. The next day she was lethargic and lying in the goat shelter and he was concerned about her. I even went out to give a second opinion and agreed she looked sad and weak, although she did manage to come out for a little drink of water. Later that morning he decided to bring her up to the house. He had to pick her up to load her onto the back of the Mule. When he started for the house, Chelsea jumped down and ran off into woods, under the fence and down toward the creek.
We just couldn't believe she would do that. It didn't look like she had enough energy to walk, much less run. It would have been impossible to chase her, or to find her out in the woods. We hoped she would return on her own and we'd find her curled up somewhere. But after a night of freezing temperatures, and a morning of snow, we have given up hope that she will return. We may never know what really happened to her.
Lola misses her the most.
|Frosty feathers from the chicken attack in the night|
|The stash of eggs hidden behind the ladders|
|The eggs were stacked on top of each other and hidden under leaves. More feathers.|
|28 eggs were salvaged to use for dog food.|
|The tangled fencing after I'd worked on it awhile.|
|I did it. I untangled the fencing to discover it is ruined.|
|Lola returned with blood around her mouth.|
|Chelsea had blood on her legs.|
|The injured hen - just under the right wing is raw flesh.|
|Before she disappeared into the woods, Chelsea looked too weak to do anything.|