Saturday, 17 November 2012

Death at 4am...

Something was wrong though in my befuddled state I couldn’t work out what it was. All I knew that I had just been woken. There was no noise, not really. Nothing untoward as such. So I lay back expecting to drop off to sleep again, wanting to drop off but something in my brain was on high alert. I lay on my back listening.
There I caught it.
A semi crow croak sound.
"Stupid chickens! It’s the middle of the night!"
But this wasn’t the right sort of noise. This was wrong.
I carefully got out of bed and tripped down the stairs to the landing whose window overlooked the wood wherein lay the chicken huts.
I drew the curtain to one side and peered myopically out.
"Bugger, haven’t got my glasses...."
I peered harder anyway but as expected I couldn’t see a thing, it was too dark but I knew it wasn’t right.
Padding swiftly down the hall, careful not to wake the children, I wended my way to my husband's room.
"Charlie wake up. I think there’s a fox in my chicken coop...."
The sense of urgency in my hurried whisper had him awake in seconds. No arguing for once.
I scurried down the stairs and grabbed my boots from the cupboard, snatched a coat from a hanger and as quietly as I could opened the back door. By the time I was half way across the drive Charlie was with me torch and hockey stick in hand.
We shone the torch in an arc round the huts but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Then the light caught a white shape under the Victorian Coop. Definitely a chicken and very definitely dead.
Could it have just been this one solitary chook that woke me?
Knowing and not wanting to know I stretched foreword my hand to the hut door, pulled back teh bolt and shone the light inside.
Oh my god!
It was scene of utter carnage but no noise. Dead and dying chickens everywhere, feathers lazily settling on the slatted floor and the utter silence. As I glanced about I saw Rufus my enormous Silver Grey Dorking Cross rooster slumped on the floor, I thought he was dead too but he raised his battered head to give out a low croaky squawk – the very same sound that had woken me only a few minutes previously.
He continued to utter his muffled alarm. Struggling to rise and slumping back to the floor again and again. I flicked the light of the torch round the hut once again and then I saw it.
A big brown vixen - it had to be a vixen for there was no tell-tale stench that I would expect from a dog fox.
She looked dazed and glazed, not scared at all. Her muzzle was coated in gore and feathers; I’d obviously disturbed her feast.
She was sated like she had been on drugs. High and not likely to come down soon.
You see foxes do not kill just the one thing; they kill the lot in a blood lust but they do it silently - a swift nip to the back of the head and the chicken is dead.
One after the other.
And the more they kill, the more they want to kill beyond any hope of just a single meal. They will kill till all is dead and nothing survives. Till the hunger that drove them to the chicken coop in the first place raises its head and then they feast there and then or until they are disturbed.
And the chickens dozy in the night cannot fight back. Trapped in the hut there is no escape. Chickens have no night vision, they are utterly vulnerable.
So I shouted at her.
"Get out! Get out! Get out! You horrible beast! Bugger off!"
Then, only then she snapped out of her blood induced stupor and she started to get bothered but she couldn’t escape running from one side of the hut to the other confused by the feathers everywhere, the devastation hiding her escape. Jumping into a nesting box to hide from the light. Then running across the back of the hut to nose at the doors to try to force her way out and away.
"Get her out! Get her out! I want her out now!"
I don’t know what Charlie did but the fox found an escape and I could finally relax - sort of relax.Relax to survey the carnage - and note that there were chickens alive, overlooked by the fox.
But there were so many dead, and so many dying….


Expat mum said...

God that's awful. So sorry Tattie.

Tattie Weasle said...

Expat Mum - I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my flock has more than halved. I have several coops but this was the biggest and the best. On this misty November day the farm was bereft of chickens doing chicken things...but we will recover as we always do!

Rob-bear said...

Such a terrible event — for everyone. So sorry to hear of it, TW.

Anonymous said...

Oh Tattie - so sorry. I hope the survivors are recovering.

PantsWithNames said...

You always hear that foxes do that. I'm so sorry Tattie - hope the survivors are recovering. x

Lou said...

Gosh Tattie, that is awful. I'm surprised you let the fox escape, not sure I'll be as compassionate.

We electrify the coop at night with a strung electric cord. So far so good.

My thoughts are with you and your girls. Did rooster make it?

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Having seen such carnage myself I would not wish it on anyone. So sorry this happened to your chooks.

I'm a country girl born and bred, I'm pro fox hunting and unapologetic for it, this is why!

Suburbia said...

That's so sad x

Linda said...

That is awful news, I hope some of the chickens survived.

janerowena said...

I had a similar experience two weeks ago, but it was rats going for the throat of broody chickens as they sat, just before dusk. We think they were after the eggs, which the silkies wouldn't leave, so have wondered how long the egg theft had been going on before I noticed the holes. Ironically I was just on my way to the coops armed with new rat bait stations when I discovered the carnage. I was in a state of shock for a couple of days, they were my pet chickens, not the main egg suppliers.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'm glad you weren't on your own when this happened !
We town dwellers don't like to think that country life includes this , too . But , of course , it does .
Hope the remaining chickens recover well .

Tattie Weasle said...

Rob Bear - Thnak you!
Mud - Surviors are recovering..slowly
Pants with Names - Thnak you so much. They are recovering. Not laying yet but definitley eating!
Lou - If Chjarlie had anything but a hockey stick I am sure I would have not been as compassionate either!
Annie - not that fond of foxes myself esp when they do this!
Suburbia - Thnak you. Very quiet here without them all!
Linda - Very kind. yes some did bt a bit traumatised as yet...#
janerownea - oh dont get me on about rats and the carnage they cause!!!! Have a rat man who comes once a month to get rid of the blighters...shame I can't do the same about the fox...
SmitoniusAndSonata - very glad I wasn't on my own too. I was useless apart from the shouting!!!

Jen Walshaw said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Nature can be so cruel and i say this as the DIL of a farmer

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Beadzoid said...

Oh that is just horrid! I'm glad there were some survivors at least..

Foxes can be pretty evil when they want to be - I used to have a cat and 3 surrounded her outside the house in the dead of night. She too would have met a nasty end if no one had awoken to chase them off.x

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

We have been so lucky to have kept chickens for seven years without losing any to a fox. All our losses have been from dogs but at least they don't do this terrible killing for fun. so sorry!

mountainear said...

What an awful night. There's quite a lot of fox control around here for one reason or another but I still wouldn't leave my hens unalarmed - they live within surrounded by an electric fence. Losing one a few years ago was one too many.

Muddling Along said...

I'm so sorry - hate foxes and their need to kill more than they will feed on

Must be something in the air, all 3 of my girls got foxed this week too


mrsnesbitt said...

OMG - this has unnerved me- we lock the chicken house but do we need to secure the little door we made which lifts up on a string mechanism? Will sort it out tomorrow, this is awful hugs hun xxx

Go on you know you want to...


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