lunes, 1 de febrero de 2010

blood & feathers

Home invasion, murder, and mourning: An update from The Coop
The chickens have had a rough start to the year. You may remember the unfortunate but necessary removal of Pimiento, the chicken who was a rooster, and how his absence traumatized the flock, ie. Mama Canela and 3 sisters. It was weeks before Canela was on the nest again; we sighed with relief and all was well. We were back to a regular egg-a-day schedule and the Chicklets (new nickname) seemed amiable. Imagine my surprise when awakened in the middle of the night to frantic squawking and frenzied clucking!
I stumbled out to the garden in my slippers, my fading flashlight beam illuminating inside the coop and the horrific cause of alarm: un zorro!
Neighbors and friends had warned me for weeks of a dreaded "zorro," a carnivorous nocturnal predator known to chomp chickens and who knows what else in the cover of darkness. Since zorro is spanish for FOX, I was only a little nervous and a lot thrilled. Cool, a fox! we have wildlife on the farm! I was confident that the coop was fox-proof.
Silly gringa. In Nicaragua, zorro means many things. Including skunk. and including POSSUM.
Slipping through a tiny gap in the chicken wire, a wimpy but vicious possum invaded, terrified, and grotesquely be-headed one of my Chicklets. Luckily I arrived in time to spare the others, but one of our girls was a goner.
Now they are three.

Don't worry--I won't post any gruesome headless chick pics, or even head-bashed-in possum photos. but you can imagine.
The Chicklets managed their grief by exercising more independence--they refused to come into the coop at night! Mama Canela was re-traumatized and egg production halted, again. The loss of a second chick triggered broodiness, when a hen instinctively stays on the nest to incubate her eggs. Except, there were no eggs. Our favorite chicken mama didn't eat or lay eggs for weeks.
Online research for my chicken troubles advised hands-on intervention. After daily prodding and shoving the poor girl off her nest, Canela finally began interacting with her flock again! We are happy to report that today she laid her first egg of the new year, and that the coop has been more extensively secured.

To encourage more adhesive flock dynamics (cooperation?), all of the hens are now cooped-up day and night. This will also establish the coop as a safe home base, and allow me to collect mass quantities of their nutrient-dense chicken poop for the garden.

chicken t.v: All in a day's work.

3 comentarios:

Curbstone Valley Farm dijo...

Oh my, I'm sorry you lost another chicken. It is a challenge keeping chickens and trying to keep them safe from harm. Ours can only range when someone is watching (even if that someone is one of our dogs). The rest of the time they're either in a secure outdoor run, or locked up in the coop at night. I'd give my hens less than 24 hrs otherwise, between mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes. Seems every critter is looking for an easy meal. I hope your hens will quickly settle in to the newly secured coop, and soon bless you with plenty of fresh eggs!

noel dijo...

Aloha liz from Hawaii,

i've visited your blog on blotanical and i'm doing a short virtual tour/post of the caribbean and wanted to feature your blog. If thats okay i would like to just borrow a picture on one of your current posts so that they can get a visual of your blog.

btw, i enjoyed reading your blog :)

Liz dijo...

Noel, help yourself to photos--i am flattered! Looking forward to checking out your virtual tour. Gracias for visiting,