Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Terror in the Night

Desperate shrieks pierced the night and tore me from slumber. The handbag I was selecting from the dream department store vanished forever into the fading mist of REM. She was screaming for help from out there in the dark, begging us to save her.

Mr. Nature banged his knee on the dresser as he fumbled for something to put over his sleepy summer clad form. He ended up with shorts and no shirt. Next, he stumbled down the hall to get the spotlight flashlight and to attempt to slide his feet into shoes before braving the night air. Still the terrified cries came from somewhere under the moon.

My flashlight was not in its position by the bed, and my shoes were not by the front door. I rooted around the floor by the closet to see if I could find something to put on my feet to save them from the sharp gravel, and wondered where on earth the flashlight had managed to take itself.

Crunch crunch crunch, flutter flap grumble cluck. These were the sounds coming to me from out there as Mr. Nature made his way outside to face the predator. How could this happen? How did something manage to get in the coop? Did it manage to kill one of our egg-bearing girls?

Down at the coop, he found that there were only three of the five chickens. Olive came from out of the darkness, but Ruby was nowhere to be found. The coop door was closed, but we had not latched it shut earlier in the evening as we always do at dusk. The dark does not come until almost 10pm this time of year, and other chores threw the routine off just enough to alter the usual closing up of the coop. It appeared that two of the five had not made it in for the night, and now one was fox food. Mr. Nature tended to the four others and made sure the coop was secure before we went back in to attempt a return to sleep.

Except neither of us could sleep. It was getting light by this time, and Mr. Nature felt that Ruby was still out there and might be okay. He went out again into the gray haze of dawn, and there she was under the apple tree. Alive, alert, but in a daze of shock. He whispered to her. He queried whether she was alright.

Upon hearing his familiar voice, she came out of the play dead stance and began to run for the coop. Relieved, he followed her there and placed her inside for some much earned safe relaxation. Here is one of the few piles of feathers we found once the sun arrived:
And here is Olive, looking a little bare breasted after offering up her feathers to the wily fox.
Thankfully, Mr. Fox went hungry, and none of our egg laying pets had to offer her life. We are thankful for this blessing and the safety granted to our girls in the lapse of our usual care. Miraculously, we still got our usual four eggs for the day!

Now, I'm off to catch up on some much needed sleep...

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SLColman said...

Scary!! Glad that the girls are alright!

Deidra said...

I am glad they are all OK! I have never heard a chicken scream for it's life but I bet it was something to awake too!

Lori at Jarvis House said...

Thank God that the fox was outsmarted by the chicken! That;s a twist! I love Nature, but the chickens are pets too. You don't know the fox yet. Sometimes hawks grab the wild birds right from my feeders in the winter. I say that it is Nature, but I am sorry for the smaller birds. I hope that Ruby and the others stay safe. The fox may try again.

Sinclair said...

Yes, last year we had a baby bird pulled right out of the bird house by a hawk while it was sticking its beak out for its mom to feed it. It was sad and gruesome!

As for the fox family, they live down in a burrow at the dry creek bed that runs on our bottom acre, and they had babies under our spa deck two years ago. We have so far lived in harmony and they have not bothered the chickens before, though we have seen them (the foxes) climb the apple tree in the night time. I hope the chickens stay clear of them, and that our coop latch is enough to ward them off in the future!