Ham: The Other White Meat

This morning the kids argued about who made the healthier lunch. 

“Peanut butter and honey quesadilla is waaay healthier!”  Buddy said.

“No way.  Honey is sugar.  I am having a ham and cheese wrap and instead of mustard or mayonnaise, I added….guacamole!!!”  Bug challenged.  Guacamole: a chef’s touch.  Bug’s wrap was actually a turkey and cheese but he always calls it ham. 

After putting the kids on the bus, Drake and I went for a walk.  We hit The Loop.  It’s a nearly 3 mile path I take through the neighborhood.  Though we walk three miles we are probably only about half a mile from the house.

Drake and I made it up the hill (the half mile part) and then set out on the official Loop part of our walk.  At one point he kept looking back behind us.  I turned but nothing was there.  He looked again and so did I.  Nothing. 

“Drake, stop it.  You scare me when you do that.”  Just because I don’t see anything I know that he does. 

Or he smells it.  Or senses it.  Or hears it. 

Whatever, I just wanted to keep moving and get away from whatever “it” was.  Towards the end of our walk he saw some deer that he had to have and he broke away from me.  I tried to find him through all of the brush and trees.  I spotted him on the heels of a doe.  He needs to get kicked so this will stop.  Once Stormy, my neighbors horse, kicked him he quit going into her stable.  He came back to me, after he was sure he would not catch the doe, and we went home.

After putting him away I went and ran a bunch of errands.  Room Parent stuff.  I had finished collecting money from all of the parents yesterday and so needed to pick up the gift today.  This required a drive down to the golf course and then to a spa.  After delivering the gifts I went home.

I pet Drake, checked my e-mails and then headed out to check on my chickens.  There is a spot where they have been getting out and into our yard at.  I wanted to make sure the block I put at the escape exit was doing its job.  I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a dead chicken in the Hen Yard.

It’s probably just roosting.  They usually nap this time of day.  They do.  They like to get up in to the coop and nap together.  Still, I found it odd that this chicken was not napping with the rest.

Hm…the coop door is shut…  The coop is where they are enclosed and sleep at night but during the day the coop is opened so that they are free to roam in their fenced in yard or run.

Feeling alarmed I headed to the Hen Yard.  As I approached I noticed other things awry.  The rake that had been in the corner of the Hen Yard had been knocked over as had their water dispenser.  I could hear the cheep, cheep, cheep of a chicken but it sounded like only one.  At the Yard I saw that the chicken that appeared to be dead was indeed.  I could see that a hole had been dug from outside the property and into the Hen Yard.  Upset, I ran into the house and IMed Man and told him the bad news.

Man: really?

Me: Yeah.  Something dug under the fence.

Man:  ouch

Me:  I’ll go see what’s left.  What should I do with the dead chickens?

I hoped he would say he was on his way home to take care of the whole thing.

Man: put them in a trash bag and put them in the trash.  or you can bury them.

Me: It must’ve happened when I took Drake for a walk.

Man: probably since he wasn’t there to scare it off.  probably a fox.

Now I started to get mad.  He said he’d build the Ft. Knox of Hen Yards.  I told him to bury the fence, add railroad ties, net the top, make it a 6 ft. fence.  Everything that I had found to work for others on the Internet and from friends who also have backyard chickens.

 

Me: The fence is not even in the ground.

Man: did he pull the fence up?

Me: No.  But it could have.  This was not Ft. Knox.

I guess I had just needed to get some courage first before surveying all of the damage.  I went back out armed with a trash bag and dust pan.  There were four dead.  The cheeping in the coop started again.  I hoped there would be two in the coop but when I looked inside I only found our white one named Easter.  There was no sign of little Eric anywhere.  Not even a feather.  I think Easter survived out of pure luck.  She must have ran into the coop and, while the others were being massacred, the rake was knocked over and it shut the coop door and blocked it.  She probably knocked over her water dispenser while freaking out about the horror unfolding before her eyes.

I went to collect the dead.  Each one’s neck had been snapped back sans one who may have died of a heart attack.  There were no puncture wounds.  I guess the fox came in and killed each one and then planned to collect them one by one.  He took little Eric first but then Drake and I probably came home and the fox was not going near the yard with The Beast in the near vicinity.

Hind sight was focusing.  The last three nights have been hard on Drake and I both.  He had been barking at something all night.  I had wondered if it was the bear that had been sighted in the hood but now I’m thinking it was the fox.  The fox was probably scoping out the Hen Yard each night and just trying to find a way around Drake.  When we went for his walk the fox saw her chance.  I think Drake could hear what was happening and that’s why he kept looking back. 

I set to removing the bodies.  With each one I got more upset.  I was upset with Man for not making things more secure.  I was upset for the kids.

Oh, Buddy is going to bawl!  Bug might be ok initially but…the chicks were what helped him get over Grandma’s death.

I was upset because these things never happen when Man is home and the task was greusome.  Every neck was bent backward; their eyes a greyish green.  I carried the bag up to the house, careful to not let it bounce on my leg.   The chickens were always so fun to hold and so light that I found it odd that the bag was so heavy, weighted by death.  I tossed them into the trash greatful that Trash Day was in the morning.  I returned to the coop to upright the water and add feed to the feeder as it had been dumped over as well.  I also wanted to cover the hole where the fox had come in. I opened the coop and Easter came out into the Hen Yard to carefully survey the area.  She made a few sad cheeps and then went back into the coop.  I closed the door and locked her in.

I called my Aunt who had also recently lost a few chickens.  She gave me a pep talk and told me some funny stories about some other chickens demise.  (Well, it’s never funny at the time but later…you know.  Gallows Humor.)  She suggested looking on-line for new ones as chickens don’t do as well alone.  I found a guy not far who has 8 week old chicks.  That is a little younger than ours but old enough to go outside.  They will lay blue eggs.  Of course, Man will have to fix our set up a bit first but he agreed more chickens were the way to go.  Probably won’t replace all 5 but at least two more.

I could soon hear the boys walking up from the bus stop.  I’m not gonna lie, (well not presently) I thought about telling them the bad news over a warm slice of strawberry rhubarb pie!  That does not really encourage good habits though.  Instead we sat on the couch while they told me about their awesome Almost Last Day Of School.  We checked out the year books and read the “You Rock!” autographs.  While we were all together on the couch I took the opportunity to break the news.

“Guys,  unfortunately I have some bad news to tell you…”

“Oh no,” Bug said, “Please don’t tell me someone else is dead.”

“Well…”  I began, “not a person…but…I’m sad to tell you that a fox got into the Hen Yard.”

Buddy started to cry.  “Just tell it to me.  Who died?”

“Easter is the only one who survived.”  I told them of her lucky break and skipped the part about the snapped necks.

“Where are their bodies?  Can I see them or did you already bury them?”

“Um…” Remember how I said I wasn’t gonna lie.  Here is where I lied.  I could tell that saying I tossed their beloved chickens into the trash was not going to do.  “I already buried them.” I said somberly.

“Where?”

“Um…somewhere…on the property.”

“Will you take me to the grave?”

“Not right now, baby,” because I have to make a fake grave now… “Right now we need to just be together and maybe spend a little time with Easter.”

“Will we get to buy new chicks!” Bug asked gleeful with the prospect.

“I am pretty sure we will.  Easter will need company.”

“Yea!  Let’s go!  Let’s go!”

So basically they have reacted the same way to the death of their chickens as they did to the death of my Grandma. 

Hm.

My mom called to send her condolences.  I confessed to her my lie about burying the chickens.

“Keep working on that Mother Of The Year Award…” she teased.

I text Caren.

Me: One chicken left.  By that I mean one chicken remains.  Fox got the rest.

C:  Oh no!  Who’s the lucky gal?

Me: Easter.  I had planned on cooking the chicken we marinated for dinner tonight….

C:  Just call it “ham.”

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About buddyandbug

Man and I moved from Texas to Colorado with Buddy and Bug. This blog is a chronicle of our adventures as we deal with homesickness and adjust to Mountain Living. “If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” ~ Shel Silverstein
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2 Responses to Ham: The Other White Meat

  1. sharib22 says:

    oh my! I couldn’t have cleaned up the mess…I’d been freaked out and puking!!!

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