Monday, September 1, 2014

Farmers Experience Failure....Yet Have Remained in the Farming Field!

Our last post was in mid July. At that time it appeared that we were doing very well in the farming department.  We had 18 chickens, two dogs and a new beehive on board. Papa Mark had planted his two areas of wheat, barley and feed peas.   Joe, Roxi(driving the tractor..on this day)

                                             Grubby GrimyAlberta Dirt...Roxann, Farm-Girl

 and I had plower the field with our little tractor and Papa Mark and Corinna planted the fields together...leaving the rest to Mother Nature.  Not Bad.

Late in July, on an absolutely beautiful summer day, Papa Mark left for work as is his usually routine.   (Those whom might not know Papa Mark took a job driving heavy equipment, a road grater).

It was a non working day for me and I had no babies sleeping over, and I had been very worn out. So I decided to sleep long as my body would sleep.  Mark leaves around 6:45....he had let the chickens out to free range and forge.  Around 8 am I awoke, got up had a drink, looked out at the chickens and dogs...all was well.  I had awoke with a head ace and returned to bed.  At 10:30 I woke, got up for the day. I felt much better.  I made a cup of tea, and drank it in front of the big glass doors to watch the chicks.......where were the chickens...odd!!

I head on out to the coup and inside are 7...Truckhead, he is the rooster (named by Aunika), is fit to be tied.  He won't let
anyone near the other hens...and where are the rest.  The first thing I do is walk all around the chicken yard looking for signs of a struggle.  I do not even see a feather.  That is strange.  I walk to the wooded brook and nothing!  The fields are flat out here and I can see for a few miles...there are NO CHICKENS! Something has happened, I can feel it in the air!

Pippi Longstocking is a fantastic guard dog and had already chased a  coyote or two off the farmland. I look to see where she was. Harley on the other hand does not seem to care who visits...friend or foe, white bread or brown, it is all the the same to old Har! I found the two dogs not far away, both were sleeping, I could tell Harley was worn out he could not even move beyond opining his eyes and shutting thm again.  Pippi did come to me, and I could see she too was tired.  At the moment, I started to feel real bad.  I had been sleeping so sound that I did not hear chickens squeaking and dogs bedroom window wide open to-boot!  I took another long hard walk looking for the chicken or at least thier remans. I get to wait until Farmer Mark comes home, and tell him we somehow, lost 11, to, something?

We had been having a struggle with Pippi, she chewed anything and everything she found.  Of course with so many little ones, lots a stuff is around...but it was not just toys, it was gloves and boots and sheesh, she even chewed the wood on the new stairs Mark was building outside.  Pippi would jump on people...we simply forgave her badness because she was a great companion for docile Harley and she chased away the interring why did Pippi not chase off this...this....whatever took my chickens.

Days went by, Mark felt bad for the loss.  Neighbours told us the cougars took chickens without a struggle and often left no clues...but foxes and coyotes would leave a mess of guts, feathers and parts...soooooo, it must have been a cougar . RIGHT?

We were now heading into August, and our troubles with Pippi were increasing.  I think we kind of did not forgive her for letting something eat out chickens.  Mark had a busy July with the route that he grates, and I too had extra work days, Pippi needed constant watching, and more training.  The truth was she was so brilliant that she needed a BIG job.  Herding  is in her blood, after talking to a few farmers whom said if she was working her days she would not be so we decided to rehome her.

I really believe that whom ever gets this dog is so lucky, she will work hard, and has a great personality.

Now we are down 11 chickens and one dog...Oh Dear!

Then the chicken killer returns before the week is done.

The chickens are now only out of the pen, free ranging, if Papa Mark or I is here to watch over them.  On this day that the killer returned, Papa Mark is outside working beside the hen-pen, talking to Dan who came for a visit, when suddenly Harley lunges and catches a chicken and takes off for the woods...stunned and shocked, Papa Mark yells for Harley to drop that bird and stop, but something snapped in Harley's brain, and he continued on his way...Papa seeing a piece of wood at his feet, picks it up and biffs it at the dog, it hits its target, Harley drops the bird.

Now just to back up a wee bit, when we first hatched the chicks, Harley did show an interested in getting them.  When Papa had put them in the brooder on day, Harley had snatched a baby chick, and like a cartoon charter, Papa Mark bopped Harley on the head, and Harley spit it out, unharmed!  After that show, Papa would make Harley sit with him when he handled the chicks, desensitizing him to that impulse he showed. Of couse we all thought it was a successful lesson......Now we simply wonder...?????
"What are you thinking, Harley"?....Yummy yummy!

It all made since....why Pippi never barked or chased away the killer....why Harley was so dead tired...And why Nan did not here a rumpus through her open window.... so now we knew, and know we needed to make a decision...Harley or our chickens!
No, it would not be the chickens...and besides Papa andNana really missed the deer and moose since the dogs came.  In truth, neither of us were really ready.  Those dogs should have had a kennel already built and a run.  With Papa Marks projects already set for the summer, it was way to much.  Papa had a deck and stairs, the shed, the driveway built up, and was working pretty much full time.  Harley needed to go!

Roxann and I rehomed Harley, and that very week two more chickens were killed by a coyote....the chickens had made their way to the edge of the driveway, and they were carried off....THEN THERE WERE FIVE!!