Monday 19 November 2012

Guilty as Charged

On the morning of the 16th, with Liz still in England, we have a near disaster. It is breakfast time and all the animals are fed, the chickens are out free ranging and the dogs are doing what they do. I walk through to the kitchen looking to make my porridge, and I see through the kitchen window, white feathers all over the yard. In the middle of all this eye-catching whiteness a white blur of activity which I quickly see is the rooster being bundled around by the two pups one at each end. The rooster is on the ground helpless.

I dash for the door screaming blue murder. Both pups look up and I am relieved to see the rooster jump to his feet and scuttle off through the gate round to the coop, but the flutter and scrabble sets the pups off in pursuit so I am hot on their heels, yelling all the way. I catch and grab Towser before he makes the coop 'pop' hole but Poppy dives inside probably by now thinking the Hounds of Hell are on her tail. Luckily she re-thinks her escape route and nips back out where upon I can scruff her too and the two pups are hauled back to the house, thrown into the living room and the door slammed on them. I never actually hit them but I think they got the message that they had done wrong.

Back outside I could see that there were a lot of feathers and some had blood on the quill ends, so I feared the worst and went to check on William. He was in a sorry state, filthy from being bundled in the wet gravel of the yard, disheveled and very miserable, head down and poked into a hole in the wall, hunched on the floor just inside the pop hole. I've only seen him look as miserable as that once before and that was when he was young and the Lovely Girls were bullying him as a new-comer.

I went in there quietly and talked gently to him so that he eventually raised his head and walked through to where the perches are, and hopped up on one. At least nothing seemed to be broken and I thought him not too injured, no bad bleeding anyway. The Girls were a distance away across the field, so may have been scattered by the attack. I am told that in a fox attack it is usually your rooster who cops it because he heroically dives in to the line of fire to protect his women, so this might have been William being heroic. Anyway, the Girls talked him down and within an hour he was back out free ranging again and preening himself back to a presentable state.

I got hold of him a bit later and gave him a good but gentle look over and could find no broken skin or open wounds and he has since made a full recovery.

The pups were left in the Living Room for the hour while I did 'Sheep Watch', to give them a chance to reflect on their sins. I don't actually think they attacked William with any malice or killer instinct. It was probably more like the kind of game they play with the cat-kittens or each other, boisterous grabbing and rolling around, mouthing up chunks of fur, only being a rooster, these were feathers which came out in mouthfuls and no doubt the distress of the rooster became, to them, an interesting new reaction and game. They probably did not intend to kill but that is what would have happened, I sure, had I not intervened.

Anyway, there was a rapid text conversation between Liz and I and, as Liz put it succinctly, "we have not given them any boundaries". So, they now find themselves grounded during 'chicken daylight' (about 0800 to 1630) allowed out only on collars and leads. They were not used to this and didn't like it much (especially Poppy!) but after a few days at three or four 'walks' a day, they are learning to love it even if only for the chance to get walked and not confined indoors. If we encounter William out with the Ladies on one of these walks he tends to take avoiding action but I think he's basically OK. There's a relief.

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