Thursday morning I woke up to a horrific scene.
The night before, instead of going into their coop for the night, Dirty Wilson (the rooster) and his hens decided that they wanted to roost in the trees for the night. They were too high up for me to be able to reach them, so I had no choice but to let them stay out for the night. We’ve been rotating letting the puppy out when the chickens are up for the night, and putting her in her pen while the chickens are loose for the day. But I felt bad making Missy the dog stay in her lot all night too, so I let her out. I figured I normally wake up before the sun rises, and I could go out and put the puppy back in her lot before the chickens came down out of the trees.
When I woke up the next morning the sun was already coming up. I immediately realized that I hadn’t heard the rooster, and a sudden panic overcame me. I quickly slipped my shoes on and hurried out the back door hoping my feeling was wrong. But as soon as I got outside I saw what I had dreaded, two of my hens laid lifeless on the ground. Feathers were scattered all over the yard.
I let out a horrifed, “Nooooo!” My hand covered my mouth as I walked closer to examine the damage. The poor hens! They were plucked practically bald, bleeding from the torture. Now, we’ve lost a lot of hens. I can handle them dying, and I’ve never been too upset about losing one (just upset about losing another daily egg!), but this was different. These chickens didn’t die quickly. They were slowly, savagely, painfully mangled.
Just as I was making my way to examine the second hen, the puppy came trotting up to me, a wild look in her eyes. I immediately grabbed her by the collar, and pushed her snout down onto one of the hens as I shouted, “No, no!” Hoping she would understand what she’d done wrong.
But the moment the dog’s snout touched the lifeless body, the hen’s eyes suddenly shot open, her head weakly raised at an odd angle, and she let out the most gut wrenching cry I’ve ever heard! I half gasped, half screamed in surprised horror, my hands flying to cover my mouth once more!! Oh my goodness! She’s still alive!!
You guys have to understand. She looked so bad, her body so torn up, it didn’t even cross my mind that the thing could possibly still be alive. But she was. And she was suffering terribly!
At that, tears filled my eyes, and I cried for the hen. Not that I loved her. She was just a hen. But seeing a living creature in such agony, dying in such a horrible way, oh, my heart just broke for her.
I picked the dog up and rushed her into her lot, to lock her up where she couldn’t do more damage. And then it occurred to me… I can’t find Dirty Wilson! Oh no! Where is he?
I walked around the yard calling him, looking for his body. After a few minutes of searching, relief suddenly rushed in as I heard his crow from inside the coop. I went to see if he was okay, and found that a ton of his tail feathers had been pulled out, and he had a bald spot on his back where a good chunk of feathers had been plucked. He looked rough, but he was okay. Thank goodness!
I went back to where the hens laid in the yard, and walked over to check on the other hen. To my shock, she too opened her eyes to look at me, alive! What was I to do? I picked her up and held her in my arms. She didn’t look quite as bad as the other one did, but still in terrible shape. I went inside and got a towel to wrap her in.
As I held her shivering body in my arms, tears streaking my face, I went to my bedroom and woke my sleeping husband to tell him what had happened. I told him that the other hen was out there suffering, and I asked if he’d finish her off. The ants were beginning to swarm her body, biting her wounds as she clung to each shallow breath.
As he went outside to end her misery, I set up a box inside with wood shavings and a heat lamp. I put the hen I held into it, and covered her with the towel again. She was in shock, shivering uncontrollably. I hoped she might live. But several minutes later, she died also.
I was so mad. That dog had to go. She has done nothing but cause mischief around here. (I didn’t mention that all of my clothes had been pulled off the line and were drug all over the place that same morning.) I announced to the family that I was listing Missy on Craigslist that day; that we could not keep her any longer. And nobody protested.
To my relief, I got a call within about ten minutes of placing the ad. It was from a very sweet lady who had been looking for a German Shepherd puppy. She lives on ten acres of land, and has two other older dogs for Missy to roam and play with. She was extremely excited about finding the puppy, and couldn’t wait to love on her. She came the next day and took Missy home with her. I know she is already loved and well taken care of in her new home, so I am at peace with having her gone.
Ugh. What a day. We really wanted to have a good dog around here, and we still plan on finding one. But a German Shepherd… at least that one… is not a good farm dog. Their prey drive is just too strong. And once they’ve tasted blood, you can never trust them with livestock again. I’m glad that we took her in and rescued her from being abandoned, but it worked out well to raise her long enough to pass her on to a proper home.
Now the chickens can free range without worry of the dog. Now the kids can play outside without being tackled, or bitten. And I can once again hang my clothes on the clothes line without anything yanking them down!
Slowly, we are restoring the peace on this crazy acre of land. Now, if we could just be done with that pig…