Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Tragedy in the Barnyard
When I went to the hydrant next to the barn to get water for the chickens this morning, this is the horrible sight that met my eyes. One of our beautiful Muscovy hens lying mangled and bloody in the barnyard--and three others missing. I could hardly bear to go into the barnyard.
I felt even more heartsick when I found feathers all over the open chicken tractor. We had used it to catch the ducks when we were going to butcher several drakes, but they don't like to sleep in it at night, preferring to "sleep out under the stars" in the middle of the barnyard. I feel responsible for not forcing them in it every night and for leaving it open so that, apparently, some of them DID go to sleep in it where they became (and I say this with NO humor whatsoever!) quite horribly, literally, sitting ducks.
There must have been a ghastly scene of carnage around the barn last night because I found feathers not only in a trail from the chicken tractor to the poor dead hen, but also outside the barnyard by the fence where we have sometimes captured an errant duck to return it to the barnyard.
There were more feathers in the back of the barn and outside near some gaps at the bottom of the boards where apparently the bloodthirsty predator (probably a raccoon) pulled three of the ducks out and carried them off without a trace other than stray fluffs of down. Hero tracked the scent along the back of the barn . . .
. . . so I took him into the barnyard, hoping he would learn this hateful beast's scent and be ready to hunt it if he ever finds it. (I think it is probably also the animal that is responsible for Sparrow, my smallest laying hen, not returning home earlier this week.) Hero followed the scent from the duck along the trail of feathers back to the chicken tractor and then to different places around the barnyard where I could see no evidence of its presence, but where Hero could obviously trace its deadly path of destruction.
Here is our poor remaining hen--the only remaining hope for a brood of little Muscovies eating flies all over the barnyard. She is looking very forlorn right now; I think she misses her girlfriends. And perhaps she is as crushed as I am that the five big drakes were apparently incapable of protecting their mates. If a rooster would throw himself in front of a pursuing dog to save one of his hens, couldn't they--with their wide flapping wings and talon-like claws--have managed to save more than one little hen?
But most of all I am heartsick that my beautiful girls were terrified, tortured and slain. Death and Destruction have invaded our peaceful barnyard.