A Bird in the Bush

…is worth two in the hand. But that’s just me.

Yes, I’m doing just fine and dandy in our current chicken-free world. It won’t last. I am told that we WILL be getting a fresh flock of four in the spring.

Then, we begin measuring eggs by the mile and the hour–the dis-economics of “free” eggs. But I just work here.

I will have to confess, as I did here some years ago, to having bonded with just one hen–Dionne, pictured here at the head of the peck order. She was both beautiful and intelligent (as chicken brains go) and it broke my heart to find her and her comrades torn to pieces by roaming, collared, neighborhood dogs. I still remember blood and feathers in the snow that early morning just after sunrise.

Our neighbors up the road had two 100 pound pigs torn to pieces by dogs recently.

So it turns out that Canis lupus familiaris is the most lethal wildlife we have in these parts. Next to house cats. And my, do we have a boat-load of those.

They have their own house up the road–until the roof caves in. Which I am expecting with a snow storm soon to come.

If not, I vote for calling in a nuclear strike on the dilapidating old place. My apologies to the cats, maybe a little.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. “…..it broke my heart to find her and her comrades torn to pieces by roaming, collared, neighborhood dogs.”

    I have a solvent for that problem. The Commonwealth of Virginia Statutes allow an owner of livestock (chickens included!) to deploy extreme measures to protect his property.

  2. I hope the pig owner has more incentive to remedy this roaming dog menace than you did on the loss of (merely) 3 chickens. My Tennessee farm friend owns Rottweilers who have killed their calves in the past. They had to go to great lengths to prevent that from reoccurring.