Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Bird's Big Adventure

After looking a gazillion places at least five times and giving her up for dead, Big Bird returned in the arms of Farmer Rick before dinner time yesterday! You can imagine my joy of seeing her again!

He was down in the creek dutifully patching up all the critter holes under the fence with wire when he heard a car slam on its brakes, and then a chicken cackle. He saw a couple of feathers floating up, and wondered...

...could it be?

He ran to the top of the bank, and there stood Big Bird in the middle of the road, befuddled as ever, twisting her head around trying to figure out where she was.

Now I'll remind you, this is a fancy feathered light-colored chicken with limited vision that's just spent two days and two nights out in the rain and cold without much cover, food or water, and plenty of predators around. The fact that she survived this is amazing.

Suddenly, a car was coming, headed right for her! Farmer Rick scaled the no-climb six foot fence and bounded for her, and the car slowed to a stop, to avoid hitting both of them. I'm sure the driver was wondering what was that?

By now, she figured she was in some kind of really big trouble and fleed toward the 20 foot drop off to the culverts below, narrowly ducking into a thicket of green brier, and forcing FR to dive into it, gashing extremities to retrieve her.

It was a beautiful reunion. We sat together in the wicker love seat on the front porch as the rays of the setting sun washed us in gold. She nestled her bouffant head into the crook of my arm as I petted her. She sang a sweet little song. Then, I felt it hit my thigh. Thinking it was something else, I looked down, and there was one perfect white egg in my lap!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

She's Gone

It's hard to come to terms with a missing pet, even the chicken kind. I had a good cry last night.

Possums, raccoons, and skunks eat only their favorite parts and leave behind the rest of the evidence. But when the body is missing it is likely the work of a coyote, predator bird, bobcat...or fox.

We have all of the latter. I even suspect the neighbor's black cat whom I've caught stalking the chickens before from the outside of the fence. But, pardon the pun, wouldn't it just bite if it were a fox, after my recent ordeal?

I've set out a Have-a-Heart trap in hopes of relocating the culprit, far, far, away.

I'm thinking on the Polish peeps I'm getting next month I'll be giving them stylish cuts when they grow up so they can see better. I read about a woman who did this to hers in a poultry magazine.

Meanwhile, there ain't no sunshine when she's gone.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Big Bird is Missing

If you grew up with Sesame Street, you'll know which one is Big Bird. They are a rare breed known as Polish where their feathered poufs grow so big it sometimes impairs their vision. They also don't set their own eggs, so it's not difficult to understand why there aren't more of them.

Ruzina's mate Apollo, as you recall, met with a sad fate this past summer, for which I am to blame. They are White Crested Black Polish. Big Bird is a Buff Laced Polish. They are very sweet and full of personality. I could always count on Big Bird to lay one pointed white egg every day, even when the other hens decided to go on strike.

Yesterday was our first rainy day in eons but it started after I let the hens out. I tried to cuddle Big Bird but she was anxious to get her scratching accomplished and was out the door after a little personal affection. Chickens don't like getting wet and I expected most of them to return to the coop. In the afternoon I went out to collect eggs and most of the hens were relaxing inside. I cannot remember if she was there.

But when the sun set, and roll was called, she was not there. Farmer Rick and I scoured the creek looking for her by flashlight. She is never one to stray far because of her limited sight. She also never flies up for the same reason, and lays her egg on the floor. Instead of a roost, we built her a staircase. Underneath all those feathers are the biggest, most beautiful chicken eyes I've ever seen!

I tried not to worry, as this happened once to Ruzina when the creek was leafy and the next afternoon I was leaning against the coop having a good cry, when up popped her white head from the brush and she came running to me. But the creek is devoid of green right now. I've trekked all over the property looking for feathers, body parts, any clue as to where she went or was taken. Nothing.

Today it is still raining and she has not shown up. I am reluctant to let the other hens out in case there is a predator lurking. I would gladly trade those two bad Egyptian Fayoumis hens, Amelia and Sacajewea (now Sack of Potatoes), to have her back. They are always the ones sneaking onto the front lawn (where the grass IS greener), smoking, flirting with boys, taking chances with the preacher's wild dogs. You wouldn't catch Big Bird associating with them.

When you have a farm and lots of animals you deal with loss. Joy and sorrow go hand in hand. I'm trying to remain hopeful.

Say a little prayer.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Round Pegs in Square Holes

Last year, when Farmer Rick was digging the trench for the sewer line reroute, Cody our backyard dog discovered an armadillo using it as a highway late one night. Awakened by constant barking--which could only mean "critter!"--we put the dog in the shed and let the 'dillo escape.

However, the poor creature was so rattled it dove into the fence, wedging its round body firmly into the square wire hole. At first we tried to pull him out, but the anatomy of his bands made that against the grain, so to speak. This left us with the choice of either cutting our fence, or pushing two thirds of a very round rear through. We chose the latter, and discovered--with much grunting on all accounts--that you can put a round peg in a square hole.

That 'dillo ran at the speed of light once he popped through. Seems like we scraped off a few scales in the process. We see him around almost every day, and have named him Patches, for obvious reasons.

This morning, Patches was in the front yard when I went to let the chickens out, so I grabbed my camera and got really close. For those of you that don't know, armadillos are relatively deaf and blind. They use their sense of smell and feel for vibrations. If you move slowly and are down wind of them you can pretty much get right next to them. In this case I was laying in the grass about three feet away.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin