My last blog spoke about the dog and how he has been preoccupied with the chicken coop. We have had the dog in the backyard for over a year and have not had any real problems with him messing with the chickens until the last week. For several days I found evidence of digging but he was far from being able to get in the coop or pen. I thought I had fortified the possible entry point by pounding three pieces of rebar in the area.
Today while teaching class I received a phone call from my neighbor who asked if I was home as he had a red chicken in his garage. I have other neighbors with chickens so I thought it might be one of theirs as they have gotten out of the yard before. My mind started to wander to my coop and I still was in denial that the dog could get into the pen.
I skipped going to the junior high garden and I ran home to investigate. My backyard borders a road so I pulled over to look through the fence at the coop. My initial scan was a relief as the main pen and gate looked fine. I then observed the rebar still in place but the small pen door wire had been pried up from the bottom enough for the dog to get into the pen. I then witnessed the massacre of feathers and bodies. I found three dead chickens in the coop so I knew that five were able to escape the pen. More investigation of the yard found two others and further investigation found several burial piles where the dog put the birds for later. There are two outstanding but I am not confident that they escaped the yard and I will probably find them buried somewhere else.
Needless to say I called the step-son (owner of the dog), and I evicted the dog from my home never to return. My seven year old will have a hard time with this but enough is enough as we tried to make it work with this dog for over a year. Moral of the story is don’t have big dogs and chickens. They don’t mix. Little dogs are okay as the chickens will peck the crap out of them but middle and large sized dogs are a disaster waiting to happen regardless of how careful you think you are.
The chickens I lost were my old White Leghorn (four year old bird), my Black Maran, Wellsummer, Barred rock, Buff Orpintons (2), and an Americana. They were very tame birds and I raised four of them from chicks. Last night I had them out with me digging for worms in the compost bins and foraging the yard. I feel good that although I have been very busy lately, I spent an hour or so with them last night.
Having retrieved my sole survivor Rhode Island Red who managed to get over a six foot fence and hide in my neighbor’s garage, I drove the neighborhood hoping to find a possible survivor or two. No luck. I then repaired the damaged pen with hardware cloth and I returned the survivor to the pen. Chickens are social creatures and as this one was severely traumatized I figured I should get at least one for company. I checked KSL and found a Blue Laced Wyndotte for sale that was a little over a year old. I drove over and picked up the bird and brought it home. Upon entry into the cage my Rhode Island was hiding in the hen house. The new chicken went on the attack and initially had the Rhode Island on the ropes but this just pissed off the Rhode Island and after a mutual tug of war, the Rhode Island got the upper hand. Introducing new chickens always involves them fighting and figuring out the pecking order but I have never had two birds go at it as long as they did. Will have to see how this goes but they are roosting next to each other tonight in the house after some continued squabbling. Maybe having a little alone time would have been better.
My neighbor thoughtfully brought me a six pack of beer to drown my sorrows. Here’s to you birds. Thanks for the memories.