Monday, March 17, 2008

Slaughter

Sunday dawned sunny and warm with the promise of a full day to get a bunch of outdoor work done. I was ready to finish taking out that last line of barbed wire fencing, mow down some weeds to make room for wildflowers and native grasses, overseed the pasture and ride Calypso.

Instead, it was a day of massive, senseless slaughter. Somehow my little flock of chickens got locked OUT of their coop Saturday night. (I have my suspicions about how that happened, but will remain mum on the subject. Let's just say it has something to do with the youngest member of our family.) Early in the morning on most days we let Akasha, our German Shepherd/Akita/Husky mix out to run for a bit. She's a confirmed chicken killer and can't seem to help her instinct to chase down small animals and murder them if she can catch them. She chases rabbits, but never catches them. We never let her run unless the chickens are locked up nice and safe in their house.

Not realizing someone (*cough* Unruly *cough*) had locked our flock OUT of the coop, we let her run. And run she did. Right into the flock to murder eight of my hens and the little duck. Now, I don't know if she killed them ALL because we only picked up four corpses. She doesn't eat them, she just kills them. Five bodies were not accounted for and I'm going to assume those five were murdered during the night by whatever wildlife likes to dine on plump hens.

I admit I cried. Yes, they are just chickens. But they all had names. And most of them would let you catch and hold them. They all had their own personalities: The showoff, the loner, the talker, Mrs. Bossy, the cranky old lady. I liked to sit and just watch them be chickens, pecking around in the pasture, chasing bugs, just being happy chickens and amusing me with their antics.

The yard and pastures look like a feather-bed exploded in them, piles and puffs of feathers in all shades cling to the ground. And the lifeless lumps lying in the yard broke my heart. It is our responsibility to protect those dumb birds from predators. And we failed to protect them. Failed. And now they are dead.

We ordered a new batch of chicks Sunday afternoon, which we were going to do before the slaughter anyway, but, I felt guilty that we couuld replace them so easily with just a click of the mouse and a credit card.

6 comments:

Kathy said...

So sorry Jenn. Dang dog! Were there any survivors? Hard to enjoy your day after a start like that.
I got a new blue heeler mix last week.

nell said...

I'm sorry about your chickens. I'd be sad too.

Jenn said...

Kathy...we have 3 hens and the rooster left. All four guineas survived, but they are much better fliers than the chickens. They probably got on top of the chicken house and stayed there all night. I saw pictures of the new pup, what a cutie! Bad dog for being in the kitchen sink though! :P

Nell...thank you. Whoever thought I'd be so sentimental over a bunch of silly chickens.

lov ya grma said...

A pet, either a chicken or a frog, it doesn't matter. When it dies you are very sad.
I don't like your dog. He is not a nice pet.

Sona said...

I would worry about a dog that kills.

Sorry about the chickens. How did your daughter take it?

Jenn said...

lov ya grma and Sona...fortunately, aside from killing my chickens, she's a good dog. The first time she did it I was ready to get rid of her, but I was reminded that with the breed mix she is, the instinct to chase is so very, very strong. We've tried breaking her of it, but had no luck. When she's not chasing my chickens, she's the biggest baby you'd ever meet. Very submissive.

Unruly, as expected, took it pretty hard, especially because she was the one who locked them out, but she bounces back well. We've lost enough pets/critters in her 7 years that death has really become a part of life for her. We talk about it, she gets it.