Chicken Dinner:Then There Were None. Again.

Dionne, the black leader from 2010, was my buddy

Under other circumstances, I’d have been over to shut up the chickens in their pen in the later afternoon, and back again to shut the doors to their house not much later.

But yesterday, it just was not worth the effort to ride herd on the pup over to the barn and back, carrying her wiggly self down across the creek, in the terrible winds and occasional flurries. I waited for her to nap. She refused.

Then the weather turned for the worse, with blowing snow as it got dark and Ann would soon need road-coaching to decide about routes impacted by snow and accidents. So I hung pretty close to the phone until she finally got here about 8:00.

Finally, when she had settled in and could watch the dog, I went over in the snow with the flashlight to take care of the chickens. But the coyotes already had.

I suppose the fact that there has been no fresh dog scent for the past few weeks since Tsuga died might have encouraged the pack of them to come this close to the house. They hardly ever do. Last night they did. And they only left feathers. Thankfully, I’d not made friends with these three hens like I had with the batch that were torn apart by dogs fall before last.

So more death comes to Goose Creek. And life, literally, underfoot, even this moment, nips at my heels to get up and get on with another new day. Ann doesn’t have to venture out in this mess, thankfully, so we’ll get out and see what Gandy thinks of her first-ever snowfall.

Published by fred

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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4 Comments

  1. Oh, my gosh! How awful to lose your chickens like that. I lost one of mine to a fox in the spring, but I still have enough to keep me in eggs until this next spring comes around. I’ve grown very attached to “my girls,” and worry about them every time there’s another bad storm or if that raccoon will get another one. How do the predators know exactly when to strike? One moment is all they need. Sometimes I think they must spend the whole day waiting for a chance to get at them.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your chickens. (A friend who actually lives in town had a coyote jump her fence and take one from her back yard, so I’m amazed yours lasted so long.)
    I am ridiculously excited to hear the report of Gandy’s first snow, though.

  3. Sorry to hear you lost another flock. This spring will bring more little chicks and maybe Gandy can help take care of them. I know having a dog or two around will deter most predators. For years, we had an Akita, Malamute and a Husky with no predator issues. After the last big dog passed, we started losing birds at night, like clockwork. Finally, we have another dog, smaller…Schipperke, and she seems to be keeping them at bay (knock on wood). The funniest thing is when she chases away the hawks! She goes crazy when she sees those big birds get anywhere close to her chickens.

  4. Fred, I am so very sorry about your chickens! I imagine that coyotes, foxes, raccoons, feral cats etc. are pretty darn hungry this time of year. And yes, I suspect strongly that Tsuga’s absence was largely to blame.
    Coyotes provide a real service out there, helping to control the rodents and smaller mammals (like skunks and opossums) that prey on song birds and cleaning up carrion. America’s native “song dogs” are incredibly intelligent and avoid humans, whenever possible. But when they take our small pets and livestock, it’s just so hard! Projectcoyote.org has great guidance about protecting animals, but it sounds like you were doing everything right and just had a bad night. Awful!!!

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