In the last post on the aviary construction, I mentioned that we have the occasional wild cat and fox coming through here… In fact, there is a resident wild black cat on the big open vacant property next door, which to our dismay is now earmarked for development into 9 ½-acre properties. That cat sometimes hangs out with Ricky, the lone horse residing on the property, but it is very shy. Unlike Ricky who will come for the odd snack. But as superstition-invoking as a wild black cat may be, this story is not about that cat…
So, last Sunday night after all the aviary work, I was exhausted and just fell asleep like a log… At about 4:00am Patricia woke me up desperately polling me: “Did you close the chickens? Did you close the chickens?” as she heard some commotion out there. I hastily put on some jeans, shoes and a hoody jumper, and we both rushed out there.
Patricia ran to Flappy’s coop (which is on the Homeland side), closed them, and reported them all safe. They were very, very lucky!
I ran to the Dreamland side through the two gates, past the duck coop as they are all enclosed on the outside from feeding time onwards anyway, even though the actual coop door may be open in the enclosure. Gae had previously strengthened the enclosure after he had a fox attack before we took over Dreamland from them.
Oh my word! Sunny’s area was total carnage. It’s quite a big area and all 3 princesses (white Sussex hens), Rockwell and Sock (Wyandotte hens) and Beefy (a Scott Grey hen) were lying scattered all over the place in various stages of mutilation. Sunny (the big proud white Sussex rooster) was cowered in a corner under a citrus bush, bloody all over, his tail feathers all ripped out and obviously in a state of shock. He was lucky to be alive. If Patricia didn’t hear the commotion, he would have been a goner too, and the same for Flappy and his crew.
I couldn’t really sleep again after all that, so just lay in bed figuring out what to do. At first light (about 5:30) I just put my work clothes on and rushed out there without even having tea or breakfast to clear the area before anyone else stumbles upon it. Cleaned the coops, replaced the straw, cleared the clogged water drainer in the duck coop, cut of and stripped some rosemary and lavender to put in the coops, trimmed some overgrown bushes, rode in a few wheelbarrows of mulch end even whipper-snippered a lot of the edges – basically a full day’s work before most people were even awake.
It was eery to watch Sunny when we let him out later the morning. He literally went to each of the places where one of the hens were killed and looked and scratched around as if looking for them. I found their remains scattered over quite a big area, so I don’t know how he knew, but he actually went to each place.
We also transferred the two Queens (buff Sussex hens) from the duck coop, where they were getting more and more harassed by the ducks, to Sunny’s area. Partly to give him company, partly to keep them safer. They weren’t happy at first and kept flying the fence back to their old lay boxes, as both were broody. But after two nights in the mansion they now seem happy there. They’ve always been parading outside the fence of that area anyway as if wishing to be let in. Be careful what you wish for girls!
The kids stayed at home that day, but it was a pretty sad, miserable affair, alternating between raging tempers and outflows of tears. My son, particularly, was very close to these chooks – he played a big part in hand-rearing and naming them. One little slip resulted in a big loss. I’ve since heard there have been fox attacks all over our town recently, some even in broad daylight, so we will have to be very vigilant, especially with parts of Dreamland so dead quiet during the afternoons when the neighbouring school is closed. In a weird way we are lucky we had our chooks spread across three different coops. Maybe the diversity thing does really work. Who knows, maybe we’ll get some white buff offspring in the future?