05 September 2010

And then there were three...

Friday morning, usually a refereshing time of day for me.  I get up look out the back door and smile at my animals while I am munching on my cereal.

This was not the case this Friday.

I got out of bed and as usually looked out the back door.  I saw feathers and a dead hen.  I could not comprehend it.  I opened the door and ventured out in my PJs.  I thought our pet rooster had gotten loose and jumped the fence and Surge had "played" with him - until he died of shock.  My eyes darted around the yard, I saw another bird standing in the fence.  I thought it was Doc again - I looked in his cage and there he sat, waiting to be let out.

My brain finally registered something was wrong.  I dashed back in the house, threw some shorts on and darted outside again.  I felt my temper rising at Surge....

I flung the gate open and threw the haphazard latch back on and marched across the pasture, anger hurt and irritation radiating from me so violently that the guardians qucikly bowed out of my way and trotted to the other side of the pasture - out of my sight and out from under my feet.

I stared at the chicken's coop. Everything seemed normal and the same as it had last night.  I could not understand WHY chickens were dead and two were out wandering in the yard.  I opened the door to their coop thinking that something  came through the floor.  Nothing.  Everything was fine inside.  Exasperated, I looked at their run.  And looked at it again.  That's when I realized something had torn the corner of the run loose and created sharp points.  I shook my head no understanding and stacked rocks agaist the torn corner to fix it temporarily.

I spotted the large dark hen, fortuately unharmed.  I crowed her against the fence and scooped her up, as she cackeled loudle in protest.  He soft black feathers brushing against my skin.  I petted her a few times, soothing her and saw her sister on the outside of the fence.  I ground my teeth and quickly popped the hen in my arms back into the coop.

Turning, I strode back toward the gate - watching the Anatolians to see their reaction.  They were shame faced.  I strode through the gate,  quickly circling the perimeter of the fence and getting to the second hen.  I could only shake my head and wonder how she too had escaped whatever had attacked them.  I chased her along the fence, but quickly had to stop as she began to wander in the woods.  Wolf came and stood out on the porch and I yelled that I would need his help...rather snappishly.

After an apology from me and calming myself, we worked the hen back toward the fence out of  the woods.  Holding my ground as Wolf snuck up behind her, he was able to catch her as she paniced and tried to push through the fence.  All the while Surge seeming overly interested in what she was doing.  While I was back there I saw where four of our birds had gone...all killed in the same spot.

I bounded through the gate, snatched Surge up and shook him and yelled at him as I unfruitfally pushed his nose in a carcass.  We buried all of the birds and I finally found the third hen laying behind the chicken run, dead.

After much contemplation, this is what we THINK may have happened - though I'm open to other thoughts and suggestions...

Early that morning, before dawn a raccoon snuck in our pasture and pulled the corner of the fence back.  It then entered the coop and ran the chickens and guineas out.  However, before it was able to feast on any of them, Jazz or Surge treed it and it was able to escape.  Surge seeing new 'toys' in the pasture, began chasing them one by one and playing with them until they each died of shock.  Jazz seeing that he was actually KILLING them, stopped him and guarded the last chicken in the field - either that or they wore him out.

The strange thing about his is - there is no dead raccoon!  We think he climbed up the coop and the dogs pulled and bit at it, but he remained in there safe.  It was not until the chickens escaped did he get a chance to get out.  One of the guineas had a small portion eaten out of it that could have been a small carinvore...

I also think it could have been a hungry Surge, but that seems too malicious of him.....

We secured the coop and are feeding Surge more and working on his chicken manners.  Hopefully, we can get more birds Monday.