What a week! We were feeling good, coming home from our trip to Portland, and then....
Monday afternoon we let our chickens out for the first time in 3 days to scratch at the grass, eat bugs, bathe in the dirt...you know, do all those chicken-y things that makes them healthy and happy. We've sealed the holes in our yard that they used to access the neighbour's yards so they couldn't wander off. All was well until i heard a blood curdling squawk coming from the side yard. I looked out and couldn't find a single chicken. Blast it!
Wondering if the cooper's hawk we saw land on our bird feeder the week before had returned for a entree rather than appetizers, i put on my shoes and headed out the door (in my jammies, mind you, because we are a homeschool family and that is how we roll most days.) :) Once i headed out the deck door, i see the neighbour from two doors down coming up our driveway. She's got a look of shame on her face. She also has a *huge*, menacing dog named Otis (who incidentally has been a frequent visitor to our yard for the past 10 years and has tried to attack us on two occasions while we were working in the yard.)
The reason for her second visit within a month? To inform me that this time Otis was successful in killing one of our chickens. Last time, he just mouthed it and took it home. That time, she thought the chicken had walked two houses down the street and appeared in her yard for the dog to play with. Since then, i've seen that daft beast in our yard at least once. Now we know twice.
She was still postulating like last time that my chickens are visiting her of their own will; a fact which i highly doubt. She said that her dog had the bird in it's mouth when a parent was arriving to pick up their child from her daycare. (poetic justice?? having to explain why your dog is allowed attacks animals in front of small children. for a second time in a month.) I found a dirty shirt in the car, and sent Cookie monster in the house to call her grandparents. I walked with the lady down to her driveway to find Macaroon lying in near their front steps like a trophy. I insisted that our chickens don't leave our yard, but that i had seen her dog in our yard recently. She said she didn't know how he would get there as they have an enclosed backyard for him. Later (mistakenly, maybe) she admitted that he ran out the front door into the unfenced front yard while she reunited the parent and child, and he returned in minutes with my chicken in his mouth. She wanted to know what she could do, because this was my pet. I was ready to scream blood murder at her, but i could feel something keeping me from being rude to her. I calmly pointed out that these birds are mainly kept for our food, first and foremost, and the pet part is secondary. Now we were going to be down 5 eggs a week. And truly, what can you do to "replace" one chicken as the dynamics of chickens are a little more complicated than that?
Walking with Mac motionless in my arms, life seemed so surreal. I was sad, yet appauled at this woman's naiviety. She didn't even know the chicken was a hen...she thought it was a rooster, when the poor thing was about the size of a loaf of bread!! She suggested we fence off our yard completely, so i reminded her that i keep a fence....for what i need for my chickens. I don't need to keep a fence for dogs, because i don't have one. Her dog is the one that is breaking the law by accessing our yard through another neighbour's yard. She came back to our house trying to show me how we could fence our yard and then realised that we can't really easily. Promises of constantly keeping her easily 90 lb dog inside her home "from now on" started flying. Yeah, right.
I was determined to find the spot where that dumb dog got my chicken. It didn't take long, but unfortunately, she didn't stick around to see it. It's right near my daughter's playset.
So here we are, left with the options of fencing off our property (of which will be highly costly as there are a few things from the yard that must be removed first since restricted access may make their removal more expensive later), not letting our chickens out for recess, or moving. We'd fancy the latter. But how will we do that in this market? We'll have to see.
I suppose there is one other option, as postulated to me by a family member..."I'd make sure you bury that dog!" Don't want to look too obvious, though, you know? I think i'll keep my camera handy with the date stamp at the ready to snap a picture of that dog in our yard should he return before i call 911 to report an off-leash beast.
Maybe a slingshot would be in order?
One thing is sure, we are sure going to miss Macaroon!
RIP my little roadrunner...