Monday, August 10, 2015

Sherlock Holmes At The Farm

We've lost two chickens since we started on this free egg endeavor. 
One hen turned out to be a rooster. 
Who was a jerk. 
So he lost his head. 
Another hen had a bad wing. 
It was droopy and if she fell over she couldn't get back up. 
We found her floating in the horse's water trough one evening. 
She was a sweet girl. 
Jenna the hen. 

Well, we've had more egg laying drama. 
A predator took Red Ruby last night. 

Red Ruby was last seen around 5pm yesterday. 
Chad went out to feed the chickens and check on the barn goings-on. 
He saw her on the path that goes around the barn. 
She's a bird that likes to hang on the outside. 
She lays eggs near the tractor or in her special nest she made near the barn supply cabinet. 
No way in heck was she ever going to lay her eggs in the nesting boxes with the fancy curtains like the other hens do!
When he went back to close the barn up and to lock the hens up in their coop, he only found 5 girls. 
He looked around, but didn't see Ruby. 
He came in to report this news to me. 
I found a flashlight and proceeded to walk around the outside path of the barnyard doing some chicken clucking and yelling for Red Ruby.  
All I saw were a few red feathers by the main barn door. 

Were these hers?
Or did they belong to George Washington?
They are about the same color. 
And they both fly over the fence to forage in the yard. 
No chicken was found. 
Aerial predator. 
I thought a hawk from the sky had snatched her up. 
It was like she had simply vanished. 

Today during the daylight, I did some sleuthing. 
In my best Sherlock Holmes moment, I first went to the feather pile that we found last night. 
And then I looked around and found another feather a bit to the left of this main pile. 
And another to the left of that. 
I followed the feather trail through a mini jungle of overgrown brush that sits between our topless silo and our barn. 
At the end of this jungle sits the fenced-in outdoor run that the chickens use to get from their coop to the barnyard. 
And that's when I found the real evidence. 
That we weren't dealing with an aerial predator at all. 
But a stalking, jumping predator that literally scared the egg out of my chicken. 
I had found a huge scattering of feathers and an egg that didn't have a shell formed around it in a corner. 

A corner where Red Ruby was unable to fly free from. 
Had her killer been hiding in the jungle just waiting?
Watching her as she meandered through, pecking at bugs and worms underfoot?
Our sweet hen Red Ruby was horribly attacked and all that was left of her was a smattering of red feathers and her almost formed egg. 
As I retraced the feather evidence I saw that it went out to the path outside our fenceline and disappeared. 
This is the last feather to be seen. 

It's hard to live on a farm where you become attached to the livestock.
We name everyone here and love everyone unconditionally (except for that rooster, he was a jerk). 
So, we are all sad that she's gone. 
She was a great talker.
Always exclaiming that she had just layed an egg!
Come see it and marvel at what I've done!
But not today. 
You never know what will happen on a farm. 
You start the day with six hens.
And by nightfall you only have five. 
Life on the farm is unpredictable. 
Goodbye Red Ruby. 
You will be missed. 
Thank you for bringing joy to our barnyard. 

...Chad cut down the jungle after I showed him my evidence of a stalking attack on poor Red Ruby. 
And found himself smack dab in the middle of a yellow jacket nest just as he was finishing up. 
He threw down his machete and ran for his life. 
He was stung three times. 
You never know what's next. 

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