The Attack on the Hens
I was dozing under Dad’s pickup when Bladen came riding up on his bicycle.
At one point Blade was working with Mom to earn money for a new bicycle, but Dad dug Uncle Evan’s BMX out of the barn and asked Blade if he wanted to ride it. There was lots of Blade getting on and Dad adjusting the seat, then a couple or three rides up and down the driveway between the house and the grain bins, when Blade said; “Okay.” That was the last of working for a new bike, now Blade is working for a hundred dollar bill.
Every time he gets enough money to change his dollars into a bigger dollar that is what he does. I think I overheard him tell Mom and Dad that he has a twenty dollar bill, a ten dollar bill, a five dollar bill and summer isn’t even over yet.
Anyway, back to my story. Blade came riding up really fast and said that something got one of Mom-mom (Misty’s) hens. Would Mom come down and see what predator it was. My Mom can just look at the murder and know what predator did it. At least she has pretty good ideas….dogs kill just to kill, raccoons will reach through the pen and grab a head or leg and pull it off, skunks bite into the neck and throat area….well, I think you get the idea.
My Mom asked Blade all sorts of questions as she was getting ready to go down to Mom-mom’s hen house to check out the damage. She asked us dogs, Boomer and I, Fuzzy, if we wanted to go along.
You bet we did!
It was a rather long way, across the pipe road, then down the sticker road, on the super highway, then down the Apricot tree road, in 100* heat. But we made it. (It’s sort of sad, because I remember the days when I could run all the way over there right beside the four-wheeler, but not anymore. Mom always walks with me, if we walk and sits with me when I take a break. If we go on the four-wheeler she puts me on back and I ride. My legs get all shaky and trimly but I can STILL do it!)
When we got there we came upon a scene I hope I never come up on again. There was a pile of feathers that was it. Mom-mom was standing over Hank the Puff (he lost his name cow dog, they now call him Puff, as in Puff the Magic Dragon and only call him Hank when they are really upset at him).
Hank was looking sheepish and cowing down and whapping his tail really hard on the road, sending up dirt in real clouds of dust.
Then I saw it!
A feather on Puff’s, HANK’s mouth!
Mom started asking Mom-mom all sorts of questions…did you see the chicken before it went missing? Where did you last see it? Was it alive when you saw it? Was Hank with you all the time? Did you check to see if there were any hawks flying around or sitting in the trees close by?
Hank kept looking up at Mom-mom and whapping his tail a very sincere look on his face. He was stirring up a little breeze with his tail whapping so the feathers were starting to swirl around a bit.
Boomer was sniffing in the general area when suddenly he sneezed (!) so the whole pile of feather flew up in the air with one sticking on his nose, which made him sneeze even more.
By the time Boomer stopped sneezing the pile of feathers was all messed up.
Since Mom didn’t have a carcass to study, and since Mom-mom didn’t know if there were any flying predators around, Mom decided it might have been a hawk. Here is how she came to that conclusion:
- The feathers were at the base of one of the corral poles, there were no other remains but feathers
- The pile of feathers wasn’t a huge amount, more like a small amount
- Hank was with Blade in Blade’s room for most of the morning and sleeping on the deck in the sun the other part of the morning. (Until it got to hot)
- Linki found the feathers and told Mom-mom before anyone else saw the feathers
- Mom-mom counted the chickens and one is missing
- Blade rode over to Grammy’s, Hank stayed with Mom-mom and the girls
- Coyotes and Fox grab a bird and take the whole thing away, but it was 11:00 in the morning—it’s very rare, VERY rare for one of those predators to be out and about in the daytime, especially the middle of the morning on a 100* day
Still it looked pretty bad, Hank sitting there with a feather stuck to his nose, one on his head and another dangling on his chest.
Mom-mom’s faced hardened. “Come here, Hank!” Hank crawled over to her. Tail dragging in the dirt, a little whine coming out of his throat, he was telling us, he didn’t do it, he had been framed. Boomer should have chicken feathers all over his fur too, but his fur isn’t long.
Mom-mom reached down….we ALL thought she’s going to smack Hank, and pulled the feathers off of him! Then she gave him a big hug and told him she was glad he wasn’t the one who killed (and ate) the chicken.
So the mystery was solved. It must have been the hawk that keeps circling the sky all the time, sometimes being ran off by smaller birds in the area. Chickens don’t fly. A hen never looks up, only roosters do, they are always busy scratching and pecking, searching all over on the ground.
Mom said the hawk, probably swooped down and settled on the corral fence post, sat real still until the hen picked and scratched her way to the post.
They are easy prey for predator birds…really easy.