Monday, June 3, 2013

The Harsh Reality of Chicken Life

All the books you read to help you along your chicken keeping journey do not prepare you for the harsh reality of what is chicken life.  The social structure alone can be mind boggling.  The jostling for who's in charge and who is not is constant.  Anything that upsets this delicate balance throws the whole chain of command in a tailspin.  The cute and fuzzy chicks quickly determine this structure and they have no alliance to each other.  It's even worse than the Bloods and the Crypts.  It's every chicken for himself.  We watched our six grow up and quite honestly, we suspect the ranks changed afew times over the year.  Now Grun is separated from the flock, but she is still mingling with them when out in the yard with her chicks.  I'm sure when she moves back into the main coop, there may be issues.  Especially after today's 'incident'.  You see, there has been a horrific murder.  Inspector Genevieve is on the case and has inspected the crime scene.  To the best of her knowledge, there is one main suspect.  I guess I should start at the beginning....

Phoenix has spent the last 2 nights blocked into a nest box in the main coop.  He is almost fully feathered out, so does not need the heat and quite frankly, it's warm out and I really don't want him in the house anymore.  Grun has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with him and will attack him when he is anywhere near her and the babies.  So rooming with them, as I had planned, was not an option.  I checked him this morning and gave him some more food and cleaned out his water.  He didn't seem to peep for me, so I figured he was enjoying being near the gang.  We blocked off the opening with a board, but there was some room at top of it.  I guess today, Phoenix decided he was sick of being in the nestbox, or perhaps he was being his curious little self.  He weaseled through the gap in the board and ventured into the coop.  When I got home from work, I went looking for Grun and the babies as I had left them free range all day.  All were accounted for and I sighed in relief.  The gang was lined up by the run door pacing to be let they do everytime we are outside.  Something wasn't right.  Then I noticed a small pile of black and my heart sank.  PHOENIX!  I cried out to him but it was way too late.  I went upstairs for a second to collect my thoughts.  I was not going to enter the coop to retrieve the body with Lila in there as I would be attacked for sure.  When I came back down afew seconds later, Rosa was standing over Phoenix's body pecking him and grabbing and shaking him like a Pit Bull mauling a small animal.  I was disgusted and screamed at her.  I finally opened the coop door and they birds all came running out.  Lila looked me in the eye for a brief second....I think he understood my grief and even he passed by me without incident.  So sad to see my happy little boy lying in a heap.  What a horrible way to die.

When the kids returned from school minutes later, I told them my tale.  After some tears, growling and obvious disgust, Genevieve was determined to get to the bottom of this.  After a brief review of the scene and the suspects, she determined that Rosa indeed was the culprit.  She was the only one sporting a bloody beak.  I reminded her that surely Rosa did not act alone, but that was no consolation.  She tried to punish Rosa by locking her up in the coop.  Of course, reprimanding a chicken is even more ridiculous than a dog.  I don't even thinking rubbing their beak in their mess would make a difference.  These birds really do not care.  They don't have allies, they do not protect each other...ok, Lila is the only one with that job.  The rest of them just are out for themselves.  It was a hard lesson to take, but one that was probably inevitable with Phoenix.  By removing him from his mother we saved the 3 younger chicks lives, but we put Phoenix at risk to lose his.  He had no chicken companions to rely on.  We are preparing for his funeral and he will be buried in a box with his dearest friend, a blue stuffed bear Trent gave him.  She slept on this bear or cuddled up to the bear every night.  We are very sad but knew his life would cause us trouble.  2 least one has to go.  Who knows what sex the 3 babies are at this point, so we could end up with even more. 

Genevieve said it best.  Rosa, YOU will be butchered!!!  I said, oh, so Lila is spared?  She declared yes, indeed Lila would be spared from the dinner table..........for now. 

Phoenix aka Phi Phi 
RIP 5-6-2013 - 6-3-2013
Love you Phoenix!

<3  Malissa