Saturday, February 15, 2014
Spring Has Sprung
Yesterday. It was one of those days. And I know you know what I mean.
Yesterday. It was the day when that spring that has been tightly coiled for some time now, finally released. It was a day, I knew was going to happen.
We came home last night after dinner. I went out to close the chickens up for the night, assuming that they are perfectly safe in their yard; in the box of rock, wood and chicken wire that we painstakingly built. I didn't take my flashlight with me, even though it was dark. I've walked the path so frequently, I really do believe I could do it blindfolded. But I knew something was wrong before I even unlatched the gate. I couldn't see it, but I could sense it. It was more quiet than usual. At that time of night, the chickens have made their way into their coop and are roosting and making cooing noises and soft clucks and are settling in after their day. I spy a dark mass at my feet as I go to lock up their inner door, and shock and dread and realization hit me all at once. I run back to the house to get a flashlight. One of Langshans is a dead mass of lifeless feathers on the ground. Its body is in a hideous position, its neck broken.
I quickly go into the coop and count the chickens. I'm relieved to see what I think are the rest of them on their roosts. And they all look unharmed, albeit more quiet and probably stunned. I count them...one...two...three...four...five...six...seven... Three. We've lost three. I go back to the yard to find the other bodies. I find one of the Golden Buffs on the other end of the yard, her feathers more ruffled, more violence done to her, eviscerated. The last of the three, another Langshan, its claws sticking up toward the sky is in a heap by the hay stack, downed when almost reaching safety.
What did this? My first thought...raccoon or coyote. No. After this cold winter, they would have been dragged off to be eaten or eaten on the spot. These chickens were killed for sport and left there. It's the work of a well-fed pet...a dog.
But how did they get in? My husband and I walk the perimeter and find a hole about 12-inches off of the ground, the edges sticking outward after something squeezed its way back to the outside after its plunder. We find three other places where the dogs had latched their teeth onto the wire, trying to find a weakness in the fence. They eventually did. So tenaciously did they want at our chickens, they chewed a hole through the wire.
I love dogs. But if I may be honest, my first thought was to get our hunting blind and my 12-gauge and camp out near the coop again tonight and wait for them to come back and pop them. My rage was barely contained and only so because I didn't want my son to see me go medieval. It's not pretty. And the feeling of violation made me want retribution and as soon as possible. As usual, my husband is the reasonable one and had to talk me down from my vigilante mission. He threw around words like "illegal", "sued" and ridiculous stuff like, "you just can't go around shooting your neighbor's dogs" as I rolled my eyes at him and wished that he would just get quit talking and get on board with my brilliant plan.
I eventually calmed down. Grief and loss and resignation has replaced the rage. In all honesty, this is what we signed up for. You can't control everything. You will lose animals. You will lose them a number of ways...and sometimes, by necessity, even by your own hands. And it's not fair that my neighbors let their dogs run loose, and in a few minutes, recklessly disposed of animals that we have made every effort to care for and protect. But we are not guaranteed fairness in life.
So we will go out there this morning and reinforce the yard, even more. And when our neighbors drive by, we will smile and wave at them. And eventually, the grief will turn to understanding, and we'll forgive them. Maybe, I already have.