Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 9

August 9 was a bad day here at YJ Acres.  It was James' first day back at school, so I was home alone with the kids and animals.

Around lunch, I went out to check on said animals, only to hear the guinea keets' characteristic "lost" cry.  Upon finding all the babies in a tree and no mama hen (Big Red near by), I began counting... and counted again... and again.  We were missing a baby and a mama.

I went to check the chicken's water and, upon opening the door, discovered two dead chickens.  Oh, did I mention that the Assistant was with me?  Yeah, welcome to farm life!

The Assistant and I fixed up the dog crate and patiently ushered in the lost babies.  After all, wouldn't repeated cries of "lost" call all the predators in the area?  We gave them food and water and settled them near the chicken tractor for company.

I sent James a message asking him to call.  After all, should I leave the chickens?  Bury them?  I didn't want to pull them out and have the dog eat the corpses.  The end result: James sent over a neighbor, who looked at the tracks I had found and declared them to be from a fox.  He helped me bag up the chickens and secure them in the barn until they could be used as fox bait.  Later, I found the hole torn in the chicken wire where the fox had gained entrance and vowed to be more proactive in closing the door to the coop at night.  We had been lax in our security, leaving the coop door open to the enclosed yard.  No more.

Then, coming out the front door, I discovered Big Red, missing half her feathers.  We followed her for a while, making sure she wouldn't run away from the yard, and finally released her babies to her.  They reunited happily.

For the rest of the day, I could not help but go outside frequently, paranoid that another bird would die if I stayed in for too long.

That night, James and Neighbor P set a live trap for the fox, complete with chicken corpses.  James also picked up four bedraggled hens from a too-crowded coop and replenished our flock.  (It is too bad that two of the hens, both grey, are meaner than the day is long.  They might become stew.)

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

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