Death of a flock is not a title that makes you think this story will be uplifting does it? While there are two survivors of my original flock of eight chickens, I am not sure that one will make it. There are lots of lessons learned with chickens, ALWAYS.
Two years ago, I started out with a flock of 8 chickens. One turned out to be a rooster and I had to give him away because we are not allowed to have roosters in the city. Two more were lost to predators of some sort but the remaining five have been together for over a year. Red was the undisputed leader and the rest fell into place under her able direction. In the absence of a rooster, someone has to be the leader and Red took her duties seriously.
Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good day. Losing chickens you raised from baby chicks is never easy. Two survivors, Whitey and Stripe.
After knocking on a lot of doors last night, I came to one solid conclusion, there is a pack of wild dogs running through our neighborhood. According to the neighbors, they have threatened dogs, cats, and now chickens, my chickens. Lesson #1 People do not take care of their animals.
My chickens have always free-ranged. All the neighbors enjoy seeing them and their dogs and cats have learned to interact peacefully with them. But, not the wild dogs. People dump their animals and they have to fend for themselves. They get the taste of blood and killing.
Bella, our 13-year-old cat, lay by the wounded chicken until I could get to her. Bella has always felt she was the mother of the flock and she followed the chickens everywhere. When the wild dog returned, she immediately went after him. He backed up for a little bit and then he turned on her, but not before I could scoop her up. Then, he turned on me. Barking and circling.
Stripe survived the dog attack with a wound on each side under her feathers. After much thought and tears, I decided to take her to animal control where they would put her down. When the technician looked at her, he thought maybe she would survive. But, should I do that to my sweet Stripe? Lesson #2 Sometimes you have to take a chance
More mental debate, decision and then indecision. In the end, I decided I had to give her a chance to survive. Whitey needed her if nothing else. Lesson #3 We are needed by those around us.
My cousin, Lisa, told me about a nearby woman who raises chickens and I called her. She immediately had advice and felt I should try to save the chicken. Decision. Oral antibiotics, antibiotic cream, time, and love. Bring her inside and put one of her friends in the cage with her, chickens do not like to be alone. All of her friends were killed. Whitey will have to become her friend and fast! Lesson #4 Be willing to help people, even if there is nothing in it for you.
Whitey and Stripe actually stood head to head, leaning on each other, when they were reunited in the MASH unit I set up in the basement. They did give each other comfort for a little while. Lesson #5 We all need someone to lean on in hard times, whether it is God, family, or friends.
Stripe survived the night and I feel selfish for asking her to try to make it. You never know the right thing to do and you just do the best you can. Say a little prayer for Stripe, she is a fighter and she knows that Whitey needs her and I need her.
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Our Simple Homestead