A tale of tragedy and triumph

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by wornoutmomto3, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2014
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    My Coop
    Three years ago the county in which we lived finally allowed those who lived within city limits to own and raise hens (no roosters). I very quickly went to my favorite feed store and picked up a few day-old chicks and everything they would need. Every week or so they would get new chicks in and I would be among the first to pick out a few to add to my growing flock. After I reached 12 birds my husband cut me off. He was trying to keep me from going totally chicken crazy. To late! [​IMG]


    While the chicks were in the brooder in the spare room; I quickly went to work building an outside coop. It was a wonderful time. The kids were having a blast as well. The youngest always helped me pick out new chicks and the older two would check on the chicks everyday afterschool before starting homework. The kids and hubby were a big help with building the coop. Everything was going great!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The chicks moved into their newly built coop when they reached about two months old. I hadn't put the run on yet but it was coming soon. Until the run was put on I only allowed supervised outside time in the (work-in-progress) garden.
    [​IMG] It was paradise. That is... until the day "it" happened.

    It was a beautiful morning when I went to feed the chicks their breakfast. The girls were happy and healthy and hungry. I gave them a bit of extra food because they wouldn't be getting any outside time. I had several errands to run and would be gone most of the day. After feeding the girls I let the dogs into the back yard and headed out. It was late in the evening when I got home, and the sun was beginning to set. I knew instantly something was wrong. Two of the three dogs were hiding at the back of the yard. When I went out back I found the coop door open. It hadn't latched properly and the chicks went exploring. Their lifeless bodies were scattered all over the yard. I was devastated! [​IMG] While cleaning up I discovered one of the girls had survived by laying perfectly still. She was in shock and covered in mud. I quickly got her cleaned up and moved in the house to a large crate.

    After a week of TLC she was well enough to move back to the coop, but I didn't want her to be alone. She is a flock animal and needs companions. Seeing my devastation hubby lifted the ban on "solo" trips to the feed store.[​IMG] It took about two months before she had 8 new companions. And about 6 months after that I had 6 more day old chicks in the brooder.
    [​IMG]

    Everything had settled down. The coop had a new enclosed run and a fence was put up around a good sized portion of the yard that included the coop. I was even starting to get eggs. Grace as the one hen was named was the first to start laying. And soon we were getting about 8 to 10 eggs a day. [​IMG] Raising chickens was beginning to get delicious.
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    Life was good the and hens were happy.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One of the chicks was starting to show signs of being a cockerel. No rooster were allowed so I had to decide what to do with him. He was a sweet boy if a bit flighty.

    [​IMG]
    The decision, however, was taken from me by a very determined dog. After the first attack the trouble making dog was not allowed in the yard at the same time the hens were out in their yard. I just didn't trust him. On this very unfortunate occasion I was going back and forth between the front and back yard. We would be moving in a few months time and there was much to do to get my garden and chickens ready. Unbeknownst to me someone had left the back door open. I was in the front yard when "it" happened. Most of the hens saw it coming and hid in the coop but the young Delawares didn't have a clue. The cockerel and all but one of the pullets had their lives ended prematurely when the "dog" broke through the fence. I was furious! [​IMG]There was no time to react. To much work was still to be done. New stricter guidelines were enacted and enforced in dealing with "the dog." There were three ducklings waiting to transition outside and I needed the yard to be a safe place. (I wanted the outside transition to happen before the move.) The transition went well and the ducklings got their first pool.
    [​IMG]
    Ducklings grow very fast and shortly before the move the little ducklings were nearly full grown.
    [​IMG]

    That summer was a transition time for the whole family. We were moving from our comfortable home in the city on 0.6 acres to 5 acres in the middle of no where. We packed up and moved everyone including the birds, dogs, and cats. Because of the way we built the coop it had to be left behind and a temporary coop was erected at the new house. And the ducks received a new pool too.
    [​IMG]

    The first night went well and we were warmly greeted by our new neighbor's rooster. I think he had a fondness for the hens. There were no fences in place yet so mr. rooster spent the whole day trying to convince the girls he was the best and that they should follow him. Almost worked with the Delaware hen. She wouldn't leave his side.
    [​IMG]
    Seeing an opportunity I had not had before I wanted to collect some eggs for hatching. First I had to find out where the hens were hiding their eggs.
    [​IMG]
    I was fairly certain this first clutch was no good for hatching, but the next clutch was golden. Turns out only the RIR hens were laying at the time as well. Mr. Rooster became a daddy.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    We found out the hard way that the back door wouldn't latch properly and I became grateful I had collected some hatching eggs. "The dog" struck again, this time ending the entire flock except the ducks. He doesn't have a taste for duck. Now totally devastated and unable to get new chicks(mail order not an option at the moment). My neighbor took pity on us and connected us to a guy who had some unwanted extra birds he was giving away.

    Marbles is a young cockerel with lovely marbling in his feathers, and he is a bit crazy(flighty).
    [​IMG]

    Graycie and Robin are very flighty as well but the adopted the young orphaned chicks shortly after they hatched.
    [​IMG]

    Of the 9 chicks who hatched only 3 survived. Two I kept and one I traded with my neighbor for one of hers. Not sure what happened. I monitored everything and no predators got anywhere near them. One by one they just started dying until only 3 were left. The ones left are big and healthy.

    Peepers was the first chick that hatched and is the biggest. Quite possibly a cockerel as well.
    [​IMG]

    Shorty is a bit camera but very inquisitive.
    [​IMG]

    Speckles was the chick I got I trade. She is tiny but spunky.
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    A few weeks ago I ran into someone with a few full grown birds she no longer wanted. And wanting to expand the flock a bit more I agreed to take them.

    Dodo is an Egyptian Fayoumi rooster with to much attitude for one so pretty.
    [​IMG]

    Squeakers is a bantam rooster that sounds like a squeaky toy and always makes me smile.
    [​IMG]

    Rosie was an extra bird that she didn't want so I got her as well. Works for me she is very sweet.
    [​IMG]

    "The dog" seems to have settled down as well. He got loose the other day and didn't touch our chickens, who were loose in the yard. However, he did go after a neighbor's chickens, killing two hens before getting caught. Still deciding what to do with "the dog." I will be replacing my neighbor's hens ASAP.

    The ducks don't seem bothered by "the dog" and the one duck has started laying eggs. With two drakes on hand it would seem that the eggs are fertile as well.

    Bruno spends most of her time with Lucy, a very handsome drake.
    [​IMG]

    Peter is very handsome as well, but with a bad leg he doesn't get around very well. So, I usually find him sitting in the shade or swimming.
    [​IMG]

    My happy little flock is on the mend and growing stronger. Praying that there will be no more devastating events.

    Thanks for reading my little story. If you have a story to share I would love to read yours as well. [​IMG]
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    What a wonderfully written and heartfelt story...loved it! With that said, however, I have to speak my mind on "the dog" and the fact that after 3-4 devastating attacks you haven't done one of two things:
    1) Pen the dog up in his own kennel and never ever allow him freedom again;
    2) Re-home the dog.

    I know...easy for me to say, right? Please understand that I am a true dog-lover and it would kill me to lose mine but the facts are what they are..."the dog" has killed maybe upwards of 20-30 chickens and he will NEVER be broken of it. Me personally? I'd opt for #1 and make sure he can never do it again....ever.

    I am so so sorry for all the losses you and your family have had to suffer...it's never easy. Again, loved your story, thanks for sharing.

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2014
    Florida
    My Coop
    Thanks for the nice comments about the story. We have considered both options But there are various factors to weigh in as well as his taste for chicken.
    He is a very determined dog. He is currently missing 4 teeth because he tore a hole in a chain-link fence so he could walk the kids home from the bus. When we replaced the chain-link with a wood privacy fence he just dug under for the same reason. He really loves kids and attention. There really isn't an aggressive bone in his body toward anything but chickens.
    [​IMG]
    The next things to consider are age and health. He is a 12 year old dog with serious health problems. In April of this year he was diagnosed with cancer. After removing the tumor it was determined that it was medicinally resistant and malignant with a high probability of return (about 80%). The vet cautioned that if it were to return it would be fatal. On top of that it was determined he has a wheat allergy and has to be on a special diet.
    I have considered rehoming him, but the new owner would have to be willing to work with a special needs animal that may not be around for much longer. There is one home that I trust would be a good fit, but they just recently lost their dog of 17 years. So, now is not the right time.
     
  4. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    Last year I had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put down my beloved Zipster, age 12, who suffered from advanced diabetes. Twice-daily insulin shots were no longer keeping it in check, and when he had what I call a "spell" (stroke) that was it, I could no longer see him suffer. A day I'll never forget as long as I live. It might be "that time" for you as well. Best wishes whatever you decide...
     
  5. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2014
    Florida
    My Coop
    We had quite the scare this past week. I thought for sure I was going to have to cull Dodo. He spent an entire day sitting on a fake egg in the nest box. The next morning when I was letting the flock out to free range Dodo was laying in the middle of the coop in a catatonic state. He couldn't hold his head up or keep his feet under him. I spent the next 36 hours trying my best to nurse him back to good health. I isolated him away from the flock and fed him a mash and some electrolyte water with garlic. The following morning I braced myself certain he would die in the night, but he was still hanging on. The only signs of life were his blinking eyes. By this point he was totally paralyzed, unable to move. I ministered to him as best I could before leaving to run some needed errands. Upon my arrival home Dodo, to my surprise, was up and grazing near the coop alongside the flock. (The coop was at least 50 yards away from where he was isolated.) He was moving slowly, but he was moving. It was a relief to see him up and about again. The next few days showed steady improvement. Although he still struggles, on occasion, to crow his proud and triumphant crow he is on the mend.

    We were never able to determine what almost took the life of that spunky rooster. It could have been something he ate, we have been having a serious problem with mushrooms, or it could have been the bite of an insect, spiders are everywhere as well. I just don't know for certain, I am just glad he is still here watching over the flock.
     
  6. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    I am SO happy to hear the good news for your beloved Dodo!! [​IMG] It's amazing how they can be on death's door one day and out "doing their thing" the next...very good news!!
     
  7. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2014
    Florida
    My Coop
    Thanks, it was very upsetting. For all his spunk and attitude I still want him to stick around.
     

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