It happened again. I spoke too soon about how my sweet Australian Shepherds are so good with the chickens. Technically, one of them is great with the chickens, more so the babies than the big chickens. But he doesn’t really care about the big chickens, he’d just assume not bother or be bothered by them. That’s Gus. He looks after my new babies like they’re his own, he has kind of adopted them. When I let the babies out of the brooder to play in the sun, he will sit by them and let them crawl all over and under him. He sometimes even gives them a bath!
Then there’s Dude, our other, younger, Aussie. He won’t mess with the babies but that’s because Gus won’t let him near them in the first place. Dude is curious about the babies, but I’ve never trusted him much because I still see him trying to chase the big chickens from time to time. So I always keep a close eye on him when the babies are out.
Well, last night I made the mistake of accidentally leaving my coop door open. I’ve never done it, but according to the general consensus of my fellow chicken community, it happens all the time. I didn’t even realize that it had been left open until I woke up to my rooster crowing at my window as if to say, “wake the hell up and give us some treats”. I immediately panicked. I ran outside, but all seemed well! All five chickens were pecking the ground, so I went back inside to start the coffee and get ready.
Then it dawned on me…I had just introduced two of my eight-week-old pullets to the coop yesterday! Panicking again, I ran back out to the coop. But on my way out there, Dude had one of my hens by the wing! I screamed and hollered for him to let go of the bird, and he knew he’d done wrong because as soon as he saw me, he took off for the back yard like his life depended on it. And at the time, his life definitely depended on it. (This is why I choose to live in places where my neighbors can’t see me, because of fiascoes like this that require me to run outside in my robe and boots). As it turns out, the hen was fine; no harm, no fowl (get it?). Not even a feather missing, just a little ruffled. So I put all the big girls back in their coop and that’s when I realized that my two eight-weekers were missing. Mind you, I am already late for work at this point. I looked around the coop, thinking they couldn’t have gone far. When I didn’t find them there, I made my way towards the old brooder where they had been before, thinking maybe they were trying to get back to it. Chickens are smart like that, and excellent travelers. I’m still hollering and screaming for Dude to get his ass to me if he knows what’s good for him, but on my way to the old brooder/looking for the culprit, I see my poor eight-week-old Betty, dead as disco, in my yard. At this point, I knew that Petri, my other eight-weeker, was dead too, and if she wasn’t dead, she was going to be renamed “Houdini”. But I was right. I couldn’t find her because I am fairly certain she was being passed through Dude’s intestinal canal, but I saw her beautiful feathers scattered all over the front garden.
During all of this, poor Gus is hanging out on the porch just trying to stay out of the line of fire, ya know, because he’s smart and well-rounded; much unlike his bloodthirsty companion.
I am on fire at this point, so I fastened my robe, and stomped all over and around our house looking for my homicidal canine. I found him though, oh, did I find him. I won’t go into detail about what we do to dogs that kill chickens around here, but ya’ll can know that he’s perfectly fine. He just won’t be going far without a dead chicken tied around his neck, and he gets to hangout in a barred cage, in the middle of the yard while I let the babies and big chickens roam freely around it. He may even sleep outside of the coop, chained to a tree. I haven’t gotten the chance to get real creative yet, but he’s gonna learn. And If he doesn’t learn, I will soon have a red tri-colored Aussie up for grabs.
Lord help me,