Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring is sprung

It is spring in Maine- warm days, wet days, and the black flies are out! I wish I had a picture of J and me digging post holes with our netting headgear last Sunday. We still got a few good bites, and for those of you unfamiliar with black flies- those first bites of the season tend to swell, and smart! I hate them getting in my ears and nose the most.

Poor Rosie's big stand up ears get hit hard. She runs when she sees me coming with the bug wipes, but last year the vet had to shave her ears to clean them up. She and I always have clouds of them around us, but Boomer seems to be ignored. Maybe because his ears are smaller and fuzzier?

On a sad note, Saturday night we had a massacre in our backyard, all but two of our hens were killed. When I let the dogs out about 5 am, they were too interested in one portion of the fence. After getting my glasses, I saw a dead hen on the other side, and another body 10 feet away. I trudged out to remove them, and found feathers of all colors strewn about the grass. I suspect a weasel was involved, since the 5 bodies I found had wounds only on their necks, and weasels will just drink the blood. It might have been a joint operation with coyotes or foxes though, since we are missing 6 bodies, after finding two more later on.

Boomer did find a head across the street later on, and only by introducing him to the horses in the field was I able to get him to drop it. Now, in our defense, the hens had been out loose for more than a month, without a problem. I took the old fence down on Saturday, since we are redoing it, and maybe the visual barrier being gone was the final straw. So, two very nervous survivors are still giving us an egg a day each, and we are shutting them up each night.

The pile of carcasses was a problem- these were big hens, and we didn't want to dig a hole that big. When we occasionally lose one(thank you, Rosie) we will take it down to the woods and leave it as takeout for whatever animal wants it. But this was too many to do that, and I wasn't feeling generous. Really- kill one to feed your babies, but all of them?

Anyway, we put them in two garbage bags, then noticed two toes and a beak poking through the black plastic. Doubled that one up, and the toe still threatened to become visible, so we put them in trash cans, and emptied them quickly when we got to the dump- excuse me, transfer station. The workers there like to keep an eagle eye on what goes in the hopper, so we were lucky this was cleanup weekend and they were busy checking stickers and directing traffic. Not that it's against the rules to dump a hen, but still...

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