Life, Death and Moving On

It’s been a stressful week here at the homestead. 🙂 (I need to come up with a cute name for our “homestead.” Feel free to leave suggestions!) Last Sunday we came home after dark having spent the day with friends. Got to take advantage of doing that before we have milk animals to tend to! So I went down to the coop with the flashlight to shut up the chickens, and as I counted, one was missing!

Let me rewind a little. Before this, I discovered an injured chicken. It had a gaping wound on it’s back near the tail. Ugh! I don’t know if the dogs bit it, but it looks like it would have had to be chewed to become what it was, which makes me think that it may have been “picked” at by the other hens too. Anyway, it was revolting and made me sick to think of the poor chicken. So I fixed up the feeding trough that we used as a brooder for the chicks, caught the chicken, did my best to clean up the “owie” and made her as comfortable as possible in the garage, so the other hens wouldn’t peck her to death.

That night when shutting up the chickens I noticed one of the leghorns with a bloodied head!! I half suspect that her injury was caused by another chicken, though Stu thinks that it is the dogs. She isn’t talking though so we’ll just have to be in doubt. I grabbed her off of the roost and let her join the other hen in the garage. I just had to hope that they would leave each other’s wounds alone because I didn’t have a way to separate the 2 of them.

So Sunday night when I couldn’t find another of the leghorns, I got concerned. It was already pitch dark and a flashlight will only do so much, but as I searched I found some feathers. Not a good sign! In the morning when it was light I could see that the ENTIRE yard was covered in white feathers. I had no hope for that chicken at all.

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We never did find a body. Not even a bit of one. My theory is that the dogs burried it or that the other chickens had a chicken dinner. Yes, they are cannibals, sorry to have to tell you. I’m sure that the puppy had a hand (paw) in the murder of this particular chicken. I’d been trying to keep on top of training him, but he gets far too much fun out of playing with the birds. I mean what other toy flaps and squawcks and has fun little feathers you can pull out and float on the breeze?

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I didn’t think that loosing a chicken would stress me out so much. But having 2 injured one one killed in a matter of a couple of days really drove home to me how easily you can loose a flock of birds. And I’m not happy about losing them when they’ve just started to do what we got them for in the first place!

So we’ve commenced “shock collar” training with the pup, and he is also on a lead and kenneled. Yesterday afternoon I left the kennel gate open, and happened to look out the window and the pup had another chicken, IN THE KENNEL, that he was busy pulling feathers from. Likely the stupid bird went in there to get the dog food since they all love it so well, but it just proved to me that Lucky is still not “getting it” and I have a lot more work to do. That chicken was okay, by the way.

He doesn’t “look” like a killer, does he?
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I know lucky is just being a pup and acting like dogs act. I sincerely hope, however, that we are able to train him to leave the chickens, and goats for that matter, alone. If not, he’ll have to go. That’s all there is to that. Still I’m willing to work with him. He will be staying in the kennel during the days, though I think I will let him out at dusk when the chickens are put away. He’ll have to wear the shock collar and he’ll have to get zapped whenever he so much as thinks about a chicken until we can trust him to be out again. Even then, I’m not sure we’ll be able to trust him when we aren’t home. But we’ll take it one step at a time, and see how it goes.

I’ve had to tell myself to just move on and get over it. Part of homesteading is losing livestock. It’s not a fun part by any means, but I can’t let it stress me out so much! The injured leghorn recovered very quickly and is already back with the flock. The other injured chicken seems to be doing well! She’s still laying eggs and her wound doesn’t seem to be infected. I’m keeping her in isolation till it looks healed though because I don’t want it getting pecked at! Living and learning, and taking steps to keep it from continuing are what we’re doing round here. 🙂

In happier news, the ground has been leveled for our goat shed (I’m calling it the Little Red Barn, it’s not built yet, or painted, but in my mind it’s totally done! Ha!) The shed is going to be built along the same plans as our greenhouse was, just longer. I’m really excited to see how it turns out. It’ll be split in half, the front being milking and feed storage and the back being the stalls for the goats.

Here’s the space.
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It’ll be right behind the shed up the hill from the house.
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And here’s our newly renovated shed with a new window! 😉
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So, that about brings you up to date on the homestead happenings. 🙂 Our goat Polka, I’ve been told, is having twins for sure! And possibly a third. They weren’t able to clearly see the third sack on the ultrasound. Polly, is going to be bred this month and hopefully will be pregnant when we go down to pick them up the first weekend in Nov! Things are getting exciting around here!

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