Sunday, June 17, 2007

1 Hour Marten-izing

I used to see that sign on practically every dry cleaner I saw when I was younger. I have no idea what it meant, but I can tell you we were marten-ized last night. We are one hen lighter, thanks to this little fellow:

No, I did not turn into a wildlife photographer overnight, this is someone else's picture of a marten, but we're pretty sure that's what got Ink. All we have for evidence is the feathers, blood drops, and headless body. But that's enough.

She wouldn't follow the flock and come in when I shook the Raisin Bag of Joy. No amount of RBJ manipulation could convince her. So, I left her out when I went to the doctor's office. It was still daylight. But she wouldn't come in several hours later when the DH and DD tried to put everyone away for the night. They had worked for over an hour with the RBJ and every other trick in the book, to no avail.

When we got home from karate, it was dark. This flock is not anywhere near as savvy as our first, who would roost in the trees or in the barn. DH took the house flashlight, and began the search. That left me with the penlight I have in the barn for emergencies. (Why is it the men get all the biggest toys?) So while DH is wandering farther and farther away from me in the pitch black darkness, I am left with my itty bitty consolation light. Suddenly, he yells, "I have blood!" and seconds later he yells, "I've found her. And she has no head!" I am immediately sad for Ink, and frozen in my darkness, wondering what killed her, and where was that thing now? (Does it like human toes? I wonder...)

Suddenly, I am frightened out of my wits by a husky "bleh" behind me. I whirl around and my penlight lands on a huge, brown blob. (I'm thinking bear...) Followed closely by two white blobs. Yeah, the sheep that were supposed to be safely grazing on the far other side of our 5+ acres, have snuck up on me and frightend the s--t out of me. Farming lesson #4: Buy a big, bright flashlight for the barn, and don't let anyone else take it from you.

Ink, we will miss you. Even though Nature doesn't allow for stupidity or stubbornness, I wish you had decided to come in. Thank you for the eggs and the company.

P.S. The battery had died on the electronet, and the sheep had decided to come up and tell me about it.

P.P.S. A friend had the outstanding idea to get a pool skimmer to catch the errant hen next time. Adding that to the farm shopping list...


Lisa said...

A landing net (that they use for fishing) is also quite handy and pretty cheap.

Sorry about your loss. I count little chicken butts every night, and keep getting the right number, but I think that's only luck. They all wander so far now. I think we are pretty bug-free right near the house now, so they are wandering farther and farther.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

So sorry about Ink! Yesterday we moved a small shed for the new lambs, so it may FINALLY (eventually) become the chicken coop we've talked about for years. (We both like chickens and each had them growing up, but DH has always said we have enough to take care of here as it is.) So I reminded DH that we should set it up "right," as in on a concrete block foundation to dissuade predators, to start with. Lots of coons and possums in this area, as well as bobcats and coyotes. Not sure if we have martins and the like, though.

On the other hand, the shed and its "yard" may continue as sheep quarters, since this fall I'll have to keep the ewe lamb separate from the breeding group (I don't believe in breeding "babies"!).

Kathy L. said...

I am sorry about Ink...and can fully understand the frustration of trying to get poultry to do what YOU think is proper. Lately, since the creek is almost dried up, three of our hens insist they be "Swamp Creatures" and douse themselves with mud and not come when the others do. Every evening I'm out there with a smallish rake chanting "let's go, Chickens! Booga, booga!" Yes, "Booga, booga" are the magic words we train the chickens to. I really thing it's the rake beating the ground behind them though.
And for me, it seems like it's always the favorite one who gets a case of the Dumb-Ass at the wrong time. It's usually coyotes, racoons or owls that try for ours.

Sorry you lost Ink to the Darwin Patrol. :(

melanie said...

Oh you guys, thank you for your thoughts! We miss Ink, but as Kathy's Darwinian and to be expected.

Someday, if we ever get a "do-over", we will design a better coop...but for my daughter, that means LOTS more chickens. She has dreams about having a farm with two of every breed. Can you imagine?

shepherdchik said...

Yes, you should definitely have the biggest flash light. I like the pool net idea. That might work.

shepherdchik said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I use a clothes basket upside down and throw it over top of the bunnies when I want to catch one of them. Not sure how it would work on a chicken, but bunnies are faster than (most) chickens, so it should work.

Lauren said...

I just hate losing farm animals whether they be bird or ruminant. I still miss Bennifer Aflac, our big white Pekin duck, and it's been more than a month since she tangled with the snake. And then Reuben the turkey just the other night. It's one part of farming I just can't seem to get used to.

Anyway, David uses a large fish net from his sportfishing days to catch chickens and it works well. It has more of a bucket than a pool net so they stay in it.

I'm really sorry about Ink; it makes me really upset and I didn't even know the poor chicken. Hugs.

melanie said...

We also HATE losing our animals - for any reason. It took us by suprise, really, because in four years, we have been so "predator thin", that we forget sometimes who shares the woods with us...

And as if the marten kill wasn't enough, I was weeding in the garden last night and a grey fox just casually walked across the lot only 20 yards from me...I'd never seen one of those before in my life!

Kathy L. said...

We're seeing predators coming in closer and closer for meal lately. Yesterday morning, a poor mother mallard was calling away for her brood. It was only when I walked over towards our neighbors fence (there's a catch-basin where the ducks were) did I see and know why she was so forlorn. The night before, coyotes apparently came and took her brood for their dinner. I felt so sorry for her. This year the coyotes have cleaned out all the nesting waterfowl in the wetlands behind us.
Even Skittles was very upset! His pen is near there and he must've seen the whole gruesome act as he was not himself and very worried all day.
I only wish were were in an area not designated as a no shooting zone...I have a few .22 longs with those coyotes names on them.

Kathy L. said...

Oh, I meant to mention that when we build a coop here, we bury the chicken wire covering it at least 1 foot underground. Otherwise, coyotes, racoons, etc. can just dig under to snatch a meal. Burying the wire covering has confounded many a predator around here and saved many a hen.

Kathy L. said...

Our area here was put into a special "zone" by Fish & Game. As Flagstaff is growing but still gets the elk migrating through twice a year, as well as other animals (lions & bears, coyotes, bobcats, fox, etc.) it was determined that there would be no hunting in this area as well as no guns shot within 1/4 mile of houses. And yet there are still laws on the books which would allow me to shoot anything trying to kill the sheep, but arrest me for shooting on my own property. Welcome to AZ, the craziest state I've ever lived in!