Thursday, August 6, 2009

Crappy Day

I knew things were going too well.

I told you that we were going to start letting our chicks and chickens free range this week.

Guess what happened this afternoon?

Yes. Another massacre.

Different dogs this time, from people that live a mile-and-a-half north. Two springer spaniels. We caught them and threw them in the garage. Friendly dogs. Stupid owners.

We had 49 chicks & chickens. Now we have eighteen. Five of those probably won't make it. Those two dogs killed 31 of our birds. In less than an hour, I figure.

The chicks were too young to make the loud chicken squawking noises, otherwise we might have heard the commotion outside. We don't have any windows that look out to the chicken and goat area, otherwise we might have seen the slaughter from the house. The first I noticed anything was when the dogs, apparently tired of chasing chickens, started barking at our goats through the fence.

I couldn't reach the neighbors on the phone, but I did reach their grown son who lives in town. He came by to pick up the dogs. His Mom and a visiting friend are at the races in a nearby town, and he figures she asked her friend to put the dogs in the kennel before they left. He thinks the friend didn't lock the door correctly. He said he called his Dad, who trucks and is on the road somewhere. His Dad told him they will pay for the losses. He won't be happy when I tell him how much money I want.

All that work, getting those chicks eating and drinking and growing and thriving. Half-an-hour every night, feeding and watering and cleaning their brooder. I didn't lose a single one. All the hope I had for those eggs, the experience of butchering our own meat, the fridge and freezer filled with home-grown food.

I could order more chicks. But we're pushing late summer, and they would only be three months old by the middle of November when the temps really start to drop. I wouldn't order any roosters, because it would be January before they'd be old enough to butcher. The minimum order for chicks is 25. Do I want to try to bring 25 pullets through the winter?

My husband says to wait until spring, and start them early in March. My husband has concocted plans to extend the fence from the chickens' fenced run outward to the goats' fenced pasture, and let them have the run of both areas. They wouldn't be 'free-range' anymore, but they would have more than a half-acre of space. And they would be safe from dogs and foxes.

I was really looking forward to those eggs.

Crappy dogs.

Crappy day.


Erin said...

Unbelievable. It drives me crazy to see irresponsible dog owners! I worked in a veterinary hospital for years, and the craziest things I have seen come from these irresponsible people. One time we had 2 kids that came home from school to see their "free range" dog hanging from a tree, someone had tried to skin it too, still alive. Needless to say, we had to euthanize the poor animal with the kids in the waiting room. All the while not being able to reach the "parents". People should realize that fencing/kenneling their dogs not only is for the protection of others, but the dog itself, too. I am so sorry to hear about your chicken losses, and unfortunately the owners will probably not compensate you anywhere near what you are owed in time, care, and the value of your animals. Best wishes, you are doing wonderful things for your family!

Maple Lawn Farm said...

I am so sorry.

Lucky Lizard Ranch said...

Oh man Jo, sorry to hear about your chicks. Loose dogs and feral dogs are the bane of our homestead too. Sending condolences.

Jo said...

Thanks, all of you, for your kind words. They really do help. Every morning I look out to the chicken coop, hoping to see more 'survivors' coming out of the trees. But I think this is all of them.

Kathy said...

Did you read what I wrote earlier about how Alec's mother had problems losing her chickens but then made one of her German Shepherds sleep in the chicken coop with the chickens at night and hasn't lost a chicken since? I think you need to invest in a German Shepherd. They're great dogs! Unbelievable smart. And they stick around - they love their owners! Plus, little boys need to have a dog.

Jo said...

A fence is much easier to take care of than a dog. You don't have to feed it, brush it, give it shots, clean up after it, take it on vacation, etc.

Plus these chickens were taken during the day!