The garden is looking great though as my partner's computer crashed while I was gone and so he dedicated himself to outdoor work (yay!)
But I did want to write about the hens and two attacks before I left. One afternoon, I walked to the hen house to let them out to free range and to my horror saw the dishevelled body of Pip, my dear Light Brahma hen. I couldn't believe my eyes! She was in the "backyard" part of the coop, with easy access to shelter and although that part of the yard is accessible to both mink and raccoons, these are normally nighttime predators. I could tell by how Pip looked, that she had been killed by something overhead and I presumed it had been the small barred owl that I had seen lately.
Five days later, I was in the barn at about 8 AM and heard a blood-curdling scream. Dashing up to the coop, where I had just let the hens out, I saw at first ... nothing! But when I peered around the corner, there was Peaches my little Chanticleer and next to her, a HUGE bald eagle! It had flown under the bamboo poles I had erected to deter overhead predators and when I appeared, it was having a hard time escaping! I have never been so close to a bald eagle and ... man, they are big and intimidating! But I had to save Peaches, so I intervened and gathered her up. The eagle flew away.
Now I know eagles have to eat, etc. etc. and I also know that they are hungry and due to overfishing, they are having a bit of a struggle. But the animals in my care are my responsibility to protect and just as I wouldn't feed one of my donkeys to a hungry passing cougar, neither will I willing give up a hen to an eagle.
Peaches was badly wounded, with a 5 inch gash on her back going into muscle. She was in serious shock, breathing hard and couldn't stand. We put together the large metal cage, towel on top with a bed of hay inside and let her rest in the warmth of the greenhouse. Luckily, no dirt had penetrated the wound and I cleaned it out with diluted Betadine (10% iodine), then applied some Hibitane ointment I keep on hand for the donkeys. Also lucky that I found one dose of Baytril, a liquid antibiotic I had used on another hen last Fall. It was slightly out of date but I hoped it still have some ooomph. Then I got a fresh supply from the vet and she was one it twice a day for 10 days.
We erected a weird overhead make-shift "bird-scare" hoping to prevent further attacks:
That was all two weeks ago. Eventually we moved Peaches to her own little coop and offered lots of fresh greens and yummy food to build her back up. She lost tons of feathers! All the hens have been extremely spooked and stay very close to home if they leave the coop at all.
Now we are re-introducing her back to the flock (boy chickens can be nasty to one another!) and having to do some patrolling to make sure she doesn't get attacked by Ellen, the head hen. Her wound has healed nicely, she is laying eggs again and the longer we keep her separate, the harder it will be for her to integrate back in with the others. Peaches is one LUCKY bird!
|Peaches getting reacquainted...|
|You can't see the wound on her back in these pictures but you can tell she is missing feathers!|