Friday, 14 October 2011

That Was Close

Now, there are many things I could be accused of. Being slightly animal crackers is definitely one of them. However, I am not blind to my animal's faults. So as much as I adore our puppy, I know full well that he is a wolf in Spaniel's clothing, and given half a chance would scoff my chickens for a laugh. So you can imagine my horror when the little demon worked out how to open the back door when the girls were free ranging yesterday.

I was first alerted to something being amiss by a desperately squawking Betsy. Mind you, Betsy often loudly complains if any of the other hens get too close, so I didn't run immediately. It took a moment for me to realise that I was hearing that squawk a little too well. Getting up from the sofa, I saw that the back door was open and the dog was outside. Oh buttocks.

The chooks were nowhere to be seen, but offended chuntering was coming from the coop. I still couldn't see the puppy. Rounding the corner of the house, I heard a commotion coming from the garage and discovered a desperately flapping Gladys trying to achieve higher ground while a jubilant puppy yapped and jumped below her. The pup, being only 14 weeks old, is not great at following commands so my 'No! Leave it!' fell on floppy but deaf ears. In the end, I snagged the furry terrorist by the collar and hauled him in to the house. Shutting him in, I dashed back to Gladys's aid.

I found her perched on top of the fridge freezer, preening her tail in a most aggrieved manner. At first she resisted my attempts to rescue her, and squawked loudly at me instead. I imagine I was being royally told off for bringing the chicken worrier in to the house, and was probably getting a few chicken expletives thrown in for good measure. Eventually I coaxed the frazzled frizzle in to my arms and began the trek across the lawn to the Palace. At exactly that moment, the demon pup escaped again and began charging towards us in a frenzy of clumsy baby dog legs and gnashing needle teeth.

There was nothing else for it. Going purely on instinct, I stood in the middle of my garden, in full view of all of my neighbours, and barked and growled at the puppy. This strange behaviour brought him up short, and he stared at me in fascinated horror. Even Gladys considered me in a careful manner, as if appeasing a person who has just broken out of a mental asylum. Now that the chicken was safe and the dog had stopped in it's tracks, I realised I could probably...stop.

No harm was done to chicken or puppy, but I can't say the same for my local reputation.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

We Are Not Amused

Today I cleaned out the chooks. Nothing particularly earth shattering in that, I hear you cry. Well, no. But it is the first time I've done a major clear out since we had the four legged terror. And the girls are in high dudgeon.

Usually, they mill about on the lawn and get under my feet as I partially take the coop apart for cleaning. Occasionally a particularly narky broody will stalk me and go for my ankles. However, today they all ignored me and hid in the shrubbery. They are clearly sulking. Only Flo and Winnie are happy to continue their normal potterings. I'm not sure if that is bravery on their part, or natural stupidity. It's a toss up, to be honest.

So as I toiled in the autumn chill, the hens glared at me from various hidey holes. I scattered corn in an effort to lure them out which worked for as long as it took to hoover up the grain, but then they vanished again. The puppy spent the entire time jumping up at the french doors, where he was imprisoned in the kitchen. The chooks looked at him, then looked at me reproachfully. They did not sign up for this. In fact, I suspect that if hens could employ solicitors I'd be getting myself an expensive letter threatening court action for breach of contract. I am suitably chastened.

I hope that in time chicken and dog can learn to live alongside each other in perfect harmony. Or at least learn to ignore each other enough that I'm not constantly on high alert for a dog with a bulging face and a mouthful of feathers. At the moment, they hate him and he wants to play with them.

Oh God what have I done.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Chaos Continues

I'm not neglecting you, honest. It's just that I've been dealing with some teething problems. Actual teething problems. The puppy is chewing everything in sight, and is rather keeping me on my toes. Coupled with the fact that we were both attacked by a very angry dog yesterday, means that my blogging time has been seriously compromised. But no matter. Right now the pup is chewing a shoe (I'm pretending I haven't noticed) and I have a few minutes to update the Chronicles. So here goes.

My girls are on an egg strike. I'm not sure if this is in protest at the dog's arrival, or just the natural changing of the seasons. I suspect a bit of both, to be honest. Either way, no eggs for me. They are now eating less as well, and barely touching their oyster shell. In reality I doubt I'll see another egg until 2012. They watch me as I hopefully open the nest box, and no doubt snigger as I trudge dejectedly away again. As always with chickens, the less they give you the more you give them. So out comes the mixed corn, and the viatmin supplements, and the ACV, in an attempt to get them through the moult they've decided to communily have. Maude is strutting about looking resplendent and smug, having finished her moult a few months back. But everyone else is looking tatty and miserable. They are also increasingly narky, and many a hen is getting an unprovoked peck to the bonce just for existing. Even poor Vera is losing feathers left, right and centre. The miniscule hen is disappearing before my eyes.

The pekins are decidedly wary of the hound, and keep a sensible distance. Well, most of them do. Flo and Winnie seem to not have a natural fear response to a slathering mutt charging towards them, and in fact take great delight on sitting on the back step, beak to nose with the yelping puppy, driving him mad. Maeve is only acknowledging his existence if he dares to look at her, at which point she raises her hackles and hisses at him in her Dark Lord manner. He is unsure about this, and loses interest in playing with her rather rapidly. She saunters away, occasionally throwing an evil glance in his direction.

The serama are having none of it, and hide in the top part of their hutch if they hear him coming. I can't say as I blame them. I am hoping that he can be trained not to fetch chickens in to the house every five seconds. The thought of a disgruntled Maeve being caught, carried in a canine mouth, and then deposited in my living room doesn't bare thinking about.

I suspect we would all pay a heavy price for such treatment.