I’d like to start out this series of three blogs by saying these stories all happened last year(2015). My husband and I have been super busy the last year and are playing a bit of catch up. But they are stories worth sharing, at least in my opinion.
I believe it was Memorial Day weekend last year when we had our first run-in with trouble on the farm. Joe and I had taken an extra day off to get things done during the long weekend. We worked from sun up to sun down that weekend. So that Monday we got up, did some chores outside, tended the garden and decided to call it quits for the weekend a bit early.
The chickens were still out, so we let them be and went inside to relax away the evening. The sun started going down and I decided it was time to go lock up the chickens for the night. I took a peek out our kitchen window, which looks right at the coop. I noticed most of the chickens were outside of the coop standing with their heads erect. They should all be roosting for night…
Then I see Broken Chicken fly out of the coop and land halfway up the hill. Again, I thought to myself “That’s weird, why is she jumping out when the sun is almost set?” Then I saw one of my broody Buff Orpingtons jump out of the coop. I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t get that broody hen to move out of that nesting box for the last 4 weeks! So everyone, including my injured chicken (see broken chicken’s story) was out of the coop! I ran outside as fast as I could (turtle speed according to some) and looked in the coop to find this:
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh OMG! I think we both scared the crap out of each other equally! Thankfully, the racoon had grabbed one of my fake eggs from the nesting box and was trying to chomp on it. (no eggs were harmed).
The coon flew the coop and ran down towards the creek. Instantly I started counting. 1,2,3…11., shit, 1, 2, 3,…11..11! I have 12 chickens! Then I started matching pairs and scanning the hill for who was gone. Then i saw it, a big pile of white feathers outside of the coop. Big Bird! Oh No! My over-sized Cornish X was gone!
As I’m screaming for Ms. Bigs, I’m looking in all the Hosta’s, looking for an injured or dead bird. Completely panicked, I still couldn’t find her and wondered if the coon in the coop had a friend that carried Big Bird away back to their nest.. I know, really rational right? Big Bird must have weighed 3olbs, a little much even for a coon. But I took the thought and ran with it, I ran down to the creek screaming for Big Bird.
And what do you know…a big pile of white feathers comes walking out of the tall brush!! Bigs! I ran to her and scooped her up! She was so far from the coop. Big Bird being lazy and very overweight does not take advantage of our 10 acres like the rest of the ladies. I’d never seen her farther than 15 feet from the coop, aka food and water. She must be lost and confused and scared!! My husband would say “she’s a chicken, I guarantee you she’s not as emotionally derailed as you think she is.” I think he changed his mind after seeing her.
Wow, how did she make it down there! In complete shock I started turning her upside down and all around searching for injuries. It didn’t take long before I found where the blood was coming from. She was pretty torn up. It looks like a coon grabbed her belly and pulled, pulling out feathers and separating a layer of skin from her chest.
By the time we got back up to the coop it was pretty dark and none of the chickens wanted to go back in the coop. They were all still standing around outside, terrified. We got Big Bird set up in our infirmary in the garage and slowly started collecting chickens to put back in the coop. I felt awful putting them back in there for the night, they were so scared, but it was the safest place for them.
We both thought that night was the rude awaking to farming we had managed to avoid for almost a year. Thankfully and luckily all were safe and sound. We learned our lesson though. Once the sun starts to go down, we or the dog needs to be out there with them until they get locked up for the night – or they get locked up early.We knew we were lucky we hadn’t lost a bird that day, and worried our luck would run out next time…