Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Great Chicken Massacre by Sara Sain

Red Comet

So it has been requested that I recount the tale of the "first ladies" (a.k.a. my chickens) and the great chicken massacre that came to haunt my humble farmstead.  It's a tragic story, but I can't help find small bits of humor in it, so if you laugh, I won't get angry.  I always wanted chickens.  Only for eggs, mind you.  I had dreams of gathering eggs at the henhouse every time I baked a cake or fixed breakfast.  So, my wonderful dad built me a portable A-frame chicken coop to house approximately 4-5 chickens.  I began my flock with a hen and a rooster.  (Just so you know, a rooster is not required for a hen to lay an egg...that's a common misconception).  Their names were Roy and Rebekah.  They were both black Austrolorps with a shiny black sheen that sparkled green in the sunshine.  I loved hearing Roy crow in the mornings, and I'm not being sarcastic.  It made me feel like I had my farm at last!  I would feed them each morning and replenish their water.  They were sociable and I could pick them up, but they weren't happy when I did that and it took a while to catch one!  I'd watch them scratch away at the ground and eat bugs.  It was fun throwing lettuce leaves and old food to them and watching them eat with such intensity.  Their favorite food was pea salad (a combination of peas, lettuce, bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise to hold it all together.  I highly recommend it for both chicken and people food).  Rebekah finally started laying an egg a day for me, and my dreams were coming true! 
A few months later, we added another hen to our flock.  Her name was Mary Todd.  She was golden brown with white flecks.  She was more skittish than the others, but she took to the flock.  Roy hated her.  It was about that time when he became the quintessential "ol' mean rooster".  He'd pluck the feathers from Rebekah and Mary Todd's backs till they bled.  Poor things.  I'd fuss at him and try to show him who was boss, but it didn't stop.  Finally, we sent Roy packing.  He was banished to my uncle's house, and then was sent to his son-in-law's house, and who knows where from there.  I missed Roy's crowing, but I was glad to see Mary Todd and Rebekah's feathers growing back.

Right before getting rid of Roy, we moved into our new house.  Once he was gone, Mary Todd and Rebekah had free range of the new grounds.  I left their coop door open, and they came and went at will.  I'd see them on the front porch steps in the morning, and they'd flutter down to the flower beds and go to work eating bugs and fertilizing my flowers.  They clucked and strutted and were just wonderful.  Then, one day, Mary Todd was gone.  Rebekah was wondering the yard by herself.  We looked everywhere, but no luck.  My uncle called later that day to tell us Mary Todd was at his house.  Evidently, our neighbor's dog had gotten off his chain and stole her away in the night, killed her, and took her up to my uncle's and laid her beside the grill!!  Rather ironic.  My uncle returned Mary Todd's broken little body to us in a shoebox, and we buried her beneath a tree.

We knew Rebekah couldn't be alone.  She was obviously distraught, making little crying chicken noises.  So a few days later, another of my uncles brought four more hens to our house.  These were dominics, black and white speckled and so beautiful!  They were hard to tell apart, but Jordan named the fattest one Mozart, then there was Natasha, and the other two were just known as "the twins".  Rebekah showed them all the great bug spots in the yard and they trailed after her.  Mozart went missing several weeks later, and we decided a hawk probably got her.  We were on the alert because we had recently seen a coyote in the lower field (and he still roams the field every now and then).  It wasn't but a few days later that I went to feed the chickens in the morning, and a horrible sight met me.  Chicken feathers and poor, dead bodies littered the inside of the coop.  One chicken was missing.  I barely looked.  I ran back to the house to get my husband, who, likewise, couldn't believe what he was seeing.  Every chicken was massacred, including poor Rebekah, the matriarch!  I was so sad.  We found the last chicken by the woods, almost entirely ripped apart and eaten.  The ones in the coop, however, were simply killed.  Something had come in and killed them for sport.  We're thinking a wild dog.  Jordan dug a big hole, and we had a mass burial.  He then put a big rock on top of the grave.  A few days later, Jordan was out at the mass grave dumping the slop and noticed that something had come and eaten/taken away all the chickens that were buried.  All we had left was a big hole with a rock sitting in it. 

That all happened about a year ago.  We wanted more chickens, but with Ada being born, we never got to it.  But -- good news! -- we are now the proud owners of three new Red Comet chickens (named Eleanor, Josephine, and Martha) who are laying eggs nearly every day! Needless to say, we now keep them locked up in the coop, and I do believe they are happy as can be!