Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trying Not to Come Undone

After we bathed the babies and put them in bed, Jay went outside to put the chickens back in the coop. They had been out for about an hour, as usual. I was unloading the dryer when he stuck his head in the house.

"Bad news," he said. "Two hens are in the coop. I think the rest are dead."

I put on some warm clothes and went outside to help. I didn't do much more than walk the perimeter of the fence to see where the chicken-killer might have entered. Jay found ten chickens, some with their heads bitten off. That means that four are still at large. I'm assuming that the chicken killer(s) took the four missing chickens with them when they left. I have a call into our neighbor to see if his dogs might have brought home a chicken dinner.

They weren't pets. I didn't have a close, personal relationship with any of them. They were all, at some point, going to end up on my table. But I did save them vegetable scraps because it's nice to hear the sound of happy chickens. And I did chuckle when our pubescent roosters tried to crow. They were actually starting to sound respectable. And I did like to watch them run across the yard looking all chicken-y when they were let out for their late-afternoon romp.

We put a lot of money and wo/man hours into this project, and it's aggravating, maybe even infuriating, that it was all for naught. Jay's outside in the cold and dark trying to teach himself how to slaughter a chicken. I think it makes him feel like our investment wasn't in vain. Even if he makes a total mess he can still get some practice.

I kind of feel bad for the two hens that are left. Their pals are gone, and who knows what kind of trauma they went through watching everyone else get killed. Maybe there's some sort of chicken therapy we can get them in.

So this is the end of Round One of our chicken experiment. It didn't exactly turn out like we had planned.



Kat E said...

Aw, I'm so sorry to hear that. :( I do hope you are planning a Round Two!

Jenny said...

I'm sorry to hear about it. My folks went through the same thing, and in Round Two caught the next-door neighbor's dog killing the chickens. She (the dog) was told in no uncertain terms that she was no longer welcome in my folks' yard. (And her people were informed. They felt bad.) She now walks down to the road to walk around my parents' yard, then back up the 1/4 mile driveway to the neighbors on the other side, where she's still welcome.
As you know, there are lots of challenges to overcome on this chicken thing. My dad actually wants a .22 to shoot varmints now. The same dad that wouldn't even let us have squirt guns as kids.
My mom sometimes even cries over the chickens when something gets them, and they're really DAD's hobby.

anna said...

MB and Jay,
So sorry to hear about the chickens! I know how upsetting it can be. I hate the goat most days but if she showed up dead or harmed by some varmit or stray dog I'd truly be upset. And I remember losing our first batch of chickens we'd raised to a rainstorm while we were off island. It's just an awful feeling.

Hopefully though you do get some practice in dressing them.

martha said...

No, no!
Bad [doggie/coyote/raccoon/monster]!
Not your snack! Bad!

Cammie said...

So sorry to read about the chicken deaths! How aggravating!

Orangeblossoms said...

dang.... that sucks.


Hope Jay got good practice, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marybeth,

You had given me your e-mail a bit ago when I asked your advice about infant-care manuals (thank you by the way, the resources are helpful), but I lost it and am in the midst of the cloud of 7-weekness with my little girl Myla....with questions about sleep/cry/scheduling that I'm bouncing off some women who appear to have it, well, together. My troubled family back renders me a little uncertain with my maternal instincts. Could we dialogue a bit over email? I occupy this amorphous space between attachment/demand and a need for schedule/ritual...with a (feminist) space also for this burgeoning awareness of my own needs/self in this equation (yes, alas I see a feminist therapist). Let me know if you're willing to share some of your choices in this department. I would find it very helpful.

Thanks for any willingness to help,

Mary Beth said...

Absolutely Shelly,

Please e-mail me at