Monday, March 18, 2013

Hawk attack, two missing, chicken instincts, chicken doctor,

Hawk attack!  I was sitting  at the computer working on my one woman show  about a local  historical female  when I heard a squawk..... not just any squawk but one of those  'its gonna EAT me!' squawks.  I could hear the squawking  getting worse as I bolted down the stairs.  I got outside just in time to see what appeared to be a small coopers hawk  take flight.   I was prepared for the worse and pretty much got  it. One of  the young reds ( they are now a year old ) was sprawled on her back, feet in the air, twitching, feathers everywhere, up against the fence.  I very gently picked her up, smoothed her wings back into place and petted her while I assessed the damage.  The poor thing was bleeding from both eyes, the mouth and her comb, not moving  but  still alive.  I assumed internal injuries.  I made the decision that a mercy killing was in order.  I put her down on a bed of soft grass  in a protected area and went for the proper tool to do the job...that needed to be done.  I didn't want the rest of the girls to see what I was going to do so I started rounding them up to get them back in the pen.  I  found 7 of them but the two ancient reds were missing.  I managed to get 6 of them in the pen but one of the barred rocks would not be herded.  I couldn't let the suffering of the one  that was injured go so I  girded myself for the killing and went back to where I left her.  She was gone!  I found the barred rock a few minutes later under the willow tree and she had the injured one with her.  She was digging up little morsels out of the soft soil under the tree and offering them to her!  She was also flanking the injured one and  leaning against her.  I was surprised enough to see the  hawk's victim up and moving that I decided not to play doctor for a little while.  I let the other girls out of the pen and brought them to the willow tree.  One of the other girls  flanked the injured one on the other side.  when she stumbled they pressed against her and held her up. I stayed with them for  a little while and then herded  them back to the pen.  I needed to find the ancient reds (or what was left of them).  I searched the entire property, every bush and all along the fence line. I threw scratch  all around the property and called for them repeatedly.  No sign.  No peeps or  grunts and strangely feathers.  After a couple of hours I just had to  tell myself they had been carried off.  I continued searching on and off for the rest of the day. I finally gave up, checked one last time on the injured girl who was doing exceptionally well by now (a little wobbly  but eating and drinking and walking on her own) and went to my evening  VO workshop in Goergetown.  Jimmy was out of town on a job and expected back in the evening.  I left the gate open for him and texted him the days events.  I told him the ancient reds were no where to be found and  waxed sadly about how they were just to old to outrun a hawk.. 
I was just a few minutes into  the lecture on how to sync  voice  with video/computer  graphics when my phone vibrated in my pocket with a text from Jimmy.  He had found the ancients reds casually snacking on my  daffodils by the front door when he arrived home!   Where had they been hiding? Dunno.... but those two old biddies  have survived  heat waves, blizzards,  wind storms,  hard winter freezes, raccoon attacks, opossum attacks,  and a cave in.    If those two old girls were human I would want them on my team in an apocalypse!  They really are superchickens! 
Jimmy put everybody to bed and locked them up.  The next morning I  got completely dressed before going to  let them all out and give them breakfast.  I expected the injured one to have died in the night and was dressed for disposal duty.  When I opened the coop door, all ten of them ran out and gathered at my feet looking at me expectantly.  For about  thirty seconds it was eerily quiet and then they  started  clucking and bitching, wanting to know where breakfast was.  They were annoyed when I didn't let them out of the pen for the day.... but my heart just couldn't take it.  I needed them all in one  place and protected so I could get over the anxiety.  They were all fine..... I was the one with PTSD.    That was  three days ago.  I still have ten chickens.
I went to the feed store  to get lay mash yesterday and they had  bins  of  sweet fuzzy  chicks.  I texted Jimmy that  they had a rare breed he had talked about  wanting (two years ago).    He called me within seconds.  "NO...NO! NONONO!" He said.
"Piffle" says I, in my head.  Next week the leghorn chicks will arrive!