Things are pretty good here, though amazingly busy, hence the lack of updates. Unfortunately, bad news brings me back here… nothing other than a chicken murder mystery this morning. I knew something was off when the speckled sussex was out of the coop when I let the dog out for the second time this morning. I quickly put the (very excited) dog away in her crate with some breakfast and headed back to the yard to re-coop the errant fowl. She had been joined by two of her sisters (the red stars), in the garden path outside the coop run, and I started noticing more clues… I haltingly followed a trail of feathers and then with now-nervous steps, bloodspots in the snow, until I found our buff orpington in the yard by the woodshed (or what was left of her)… something pulled her under the coop-run gate (the hardware cloth was pulled loose from the bottom fence post, and there was a litter of blonde feathers where she was dragged through the wire, poor thing, then down the path, under or over the garden fence, and then found a private spot for a snack. Unfortunately the snow is days old, hard and crunchy, and already covered with tons of tracks, and I left quite a few on the garden side before knowing to look carefully. Not sure if it was our dog when the fella let her out earlier this morning before heading to his man-date doing guy things with his guy buddies (he has Pulaski Day off work), or if it was something else later this morning before I let her out again at 11ish.
I couldn’t see any heavy dog-paw prints on the garden-side of the fence leading to the coop, and am nearly certain it was a raccoon- we have them in the neighborhood, and it looks like the scuffle-signs and missing feathers start *inside* the run and maybe even in the coop itself (the coop scrub brush was knocked off its hook on the wall, there were a few loose feathers, and chaff in the cobwebs on the ceiling- signs of a midnight scuffle? Or a nestbox nabbing?), which would expunge the canine guilt-potential as there are no dog-sized openings in the fence. Whatever it was dragged the hen through and under the fence wire, which seems like typical raccoon m.o… I did hear a bit of squawking around 10:30 am, which I thought was just normal egg-song or them fighting over some tasty bit of scratch… but in retrospect might have been more ominous. Kicking myself now for not going out to check sooner. We do have raccoons nearby, but would have to be pretty ballsy to grab a chicken in broad daylight from a yard with a big dog often about… but this time of year, could easily be hungry enough to try it, or have kits to feed… or perhaps the crime happened in the cover of night and the dog was too entranced by the remaining escaped chickens to care about the carcass or drag it out in the yard (maybe she hoped we’d not find it and she was saving it for a later snack)… though I think she would have hopped the low garden fence to get at the girls in there if they’d been loose earlier- I know she’s capable and would have no qualms about it fence-hopping and chicken chasing, given the possiblity of a chicken caper, she’d choose it. Or maybe it was a really bad-ass alley cat, sick of rat-hunting and going for a bigger snack? My bets on raccoon though. RIP, chicken. Thank you for your contribututions to feeding us, and for being such a willing chicken-ambassador at the Urban Livestock Expo. You are already missed.
Urgh. Now I’m just debating what to do with the remains so I can let the dog out again… and really hoping that it wasn’t the dog’s work- though I wouldn’t put it past her! The ground is frozen solid with a light layer of snow, so this chicky may have to get a burial at the landfill, which seems like such a waste, and trash day isn’t till next Friday. At least it’s freezing out and not August… though if it were August she’d get a shallow grave with a stout rock on top near an apple tree. Oh, sigh. We’ve had a bad run with Buff Orpingtons. Such sweet birds… but lost the first to heat stroke (because the dummy was too dumb to leave the coop and nest box and go out into the fresh air like the other hens) and now this. Time to shore up chicken-Gitmo and be more vigilant about locking up the girls at night… until now we’d been pretty lucky with the dog-deterance-defense and Nite-Guard red blinky light (supposed to scare away predators), and had been putting off coop-renovations as the whole shebang is going to get moved and rebuilt when we (hopefully) close on the vacant lot next door. Need to decide soon… of course poor chicky is right in front of the woodshed entrance, and it’s time to feed the fire. There’s one big log still inside… we try to save those for banking the fire at night though maybe I’ll use it and hopefully the fella will deal with remains removal when he gets home? In that case, better get some hot vittles ready to sweeten the deal for the guy… roasted salmon with oyster mushrooms? Or oyster mushroom empanadas? Or cream of oyster mushroom soup? Are you noticing a theme here? Whatever we have for dinner, it will be fungal-flavored…
On a lighter note, we had another excellent installment of Kedz-mart yesterday… Adela Red, the Finder Things, and I were joined by Safara, with beautiful scarves and textiles from Turkey, Squasht Boutique with hats and knitware, and some other regulars who display their wares with The Finder Things. Bot Bakery brought us their excess vegan snackies from the Logan Square Farmer’s Market- thanks for the baked goods, Betty Bot! I sold some soap and other goodies, and traded soaps and brown sugar scrubs for a super-cute crusher hat from Squasht (it’s reversible, with basic grey chambray on one side, and a green, brown, and white floral on the other side that is sorta girly-urban-camo like… I likey!). Traded a bottle of patchouli oil and some egg futures for a screenprinted and handmade cat pillow that I’ve been eying for awhile, and made a couple homemade pizzas to share. Got to hang out with some old friends and neighbors, and meet some new ones. Good times! Hope to see you all at the next one… Bring handmade or vintage goods and goodies to sell or trade, and tell your friends!