First an update on my last two stories. We had a gully-whomper of a rainstorm the other day and the turkey hen did not choose wisely. Rather than hunker down under the porch, which would have kept her and her babies dry, she sat in the Elderberry patch. All three of her chicks drowned when a tidal wave flowed from the road, over my wall, to innundate her. She’s now back to mothering the two older, murdering poults.
As for Radha and the chicken problem…rut-roh, Radha. I have four fewer chickens than I did last week. I’ve also learned that Kali is a wuss when it comes to the training collars. She yelps like she’s been stabbed when it’s set to a gentle buzz. However, a much stronger buzz will evoke no sound at all from Radha. Instead, she shakes her head and keeps doing whatever it was she was doing, which is usually chasing chickens or lambs. As nice as that technology is, I think my most successful correction technique thus far has been to tie the still-warm chicken she had just killed and gutted–very effectively, I might add– to her collar then isolate her in one of the pasture alleyways for a little more than an hour. She actually whined to get out, which is the first time I’d heard that from her.
Then this morning, Moosie weighed in on the situation. He’s once again hurting but still able to walk and he wanted to join me and the girls as we went up to the wild hillside. They LOVE it up there. There are so many interesting smells and you can wrestle your sister over the edge of the hill and watch as she tumbles out of control toward the rocks below. When I called them all back down to the far pasture, Radha must have decided she wanted to play. I’m guessing she threw herself at Moosie the way she does Bear. I heard what was more a scream than a yelp. Two seconds later she was cowering at my ankles. Moosie followed casually behind her, stopped to look at her, then proceeded on home. I checked her for blood or a bite. There was nothing. I think he just told her that she’d never be the dominant one on this property and that if she didn’t start behaving, bad things would happen. She’s been very quiet since then. Between what I’m doing and Moosie’s intervention, I have real hope. If she can leave the ducks unharmed, she can do the same for chickens and lambs. If only they weren’t so much fun to chase!
Now, onto the unexpected arrival of my new house chicken. Not that I wanted a house chicken, at least not the way I wanted a house tom turkey, but it appears I don’t have a choice about this.
I don’t know what’s up with this batch of Barred Rocks, but they are the friendliest chickens I’ve ever owned. Just the Barreds, not the Partridge Rocks, their rusty-brown breed cousins, who are very standoffish.
These Barreds will come running up to me even while I’m walking the puppies then follow as if they were four-legged sheep not two-legged chickens. Those that make their way up to the front pasture while the puppies are eating insist on dashing around pups, trying to steal morsels of food. This behavior, more than any other, is probably how so many have ended up in Radha’s mouth. I mean, if you’re going run right up to your major predator and offer yourself up for slaughter, well then, you better be ready to die.
But then one of these gray-and-white birds found her way up to the house. Oh my goodness, but she’s bold as brass! We had the basement door open and she wandered right in, talking to herself, “yurp, tick, cluck, raspy groan” as she looked around. I think this means, “Well, this place is different and very messy. I think I like it here.”
After being chased out, she went to eat Elderberries, then discovered the food bowl I keep up here for the turkeys. That was it. She decided to move in. And indeed, she came back the next day. We had an electrician in to fix something. When he took his lunch break on the wall below the porch, she shoved her head between his arm and his body to steal a bit of his sandwich. Then the third day she returned, she came up onto the porch while we were eating breakfast. Let me just say that the cats don’t frighten her in the slightest. She examined the whole length and breadth of the porch, decided cat food was pretty tasty, checked the porch flooring for bugs, then turned toward the open door leading to the house.
“If I don’t let Tom in, you’re not coming in either,” I told her. She tilted her head as she considered me, then replied with a long yurp, turned around and went back down the stairs.
Today, it’s clear that she’s decided to become a turkey, because she’s joined their tiny flock. Just a little while ago, they were all resting outside the downstairs bedroom, the older poults on the wall, their mother hunkered into a pile a leaves, Tom nearby, and a little gray Barred Rock smiling to herself as she sat with them, basking in the sun.
Why, oh why, can’t I have normal animals?