On the 3rd of November I woke up to my 1st wedding anniversary. Forgive the quick slip into epic-fantasy over my traditional post-apocalyptic references, but the morning of my wedding anniversary was somewhat similar to the Red Wedding in the Game of Thrones book, War of the Five Kings by George RR Martin (TV people read: HBO series).
I say somewhat because the groom (me) was not slaughtered and the mother of the groom (aka Mum) did not have her throat slit. But if the chickens had been of Stark blood and the racoon that visited in the night had been a Frey, then the comparison is quite accurate.
It was actually pretty devastating and sadly grotesque.
Lady Leone, whom I had nursed back from deep rooster-spur wounds and was beginning to look pretty healthy again, lay beheaded in the open coop hatch. Lady Leone was a Giant White Jersey and had always struggled to integrate with the flock, which was quite definitely racist and fatist.
As I imagine the attack; she never stood a chance. A fast waddle was all she could manage. Flight was a fantasy. So there she lay, without a head, too heavy even to be dragged from the coop.
NOTE: zombies and raccoons are both known for their tendency to eat the brains of their victims. If the heads of your chickens are missing then there is a good chance it was raccoons (or chicken-zombies).
The first three chickens I owned were Black Sex-Links – Lacy, Spacey and Lucy. I lost Lucy pretty early on, but the other two were wily old hens. Lacy was the queen on the flock with a comb-over-comb and little Spacey was the perfect sidekick. They ruled the flock – not even Devon-the-Rooster got away with much when it came to Spacey and Lacy.
I was pretty sure these gals would be with me until old age claimed them on their roosts. Along the way they would, a) outwit potential attackers with fox-like cunning and, b) fight back to back as viscous hen-warriors to defeat their foes. I really felt as though these hens had the Stark spirit (but look where it got the Starks!).
So it genuinely saddens me to say that I found one Sex-Link 100m from the coop: head removed, body half eaten, wings torn from body – identity unconfirmed, but golden flecks in the scattered feathers meant it was certainly Spacey or Lacy. I didn’t find the body of the other Sex-Link – the closest I came was another pile of black, gold-flecked feathers across the road.
I’ll definitely miss those two.
NOTE: raccoons and zombies are both known to mutilate bodies more than they consume them. If the your chickens are only partially eaten then there is a good chance it was raccoons (or chicken-zombies).
My Black Maran has never been named. I found a huge patch of her dark black feathers right next to the coop and thought for sure she was a goner, but she came trotting around the corner when I called ‘chick-chick-chick’. She had survived, but her lovely tail plumage had not. I thought these things only happened in cartoons, but the racoon must have snapped a mouth full of tail feathers while my Black Maran tore herself to freedom.
I rationally appreciate that this is nature and I don’t really begrudge the racoon his ‘Red Wedding’, but I still hope the swine choked on those feathers!
Hawk Eye, my blue-egg laying Easter Egger, survivor of the Jaws-of-Trouble (my hound dog) and therefore my most skittish hen, was the sole chicken who survived in tact. She was probably half-way to the emergency shelter at the slightest hint of trouble. She’d probably done practice evacuation drills while the other hens laughed at her. She would’ve had 911 on speed-dial and disaster bags hidden in strategic places around the garden.
If the apocalypse comes in the form of zombies or alien-attack, we could learn a thing or two from Hawk Eye.
Where was Devon? you ask. Isn’t the rooster there to protect the flock?
Did he hide and cower when it came to his moment of glory? Did he use his long legs and fatless body to run for the hills? Did he fearlessly sacrifice his life to fight the racoon? Did he die for his flock?
All good questions, the answers to which we will never know. Whether it’s sad coincidence, or really clever racoons – the attack came on the very first night that I isolated Devon in a second coop. He had to stand and watch while his flock was killed, unable to help or hide.
Maybe it’s a blessing that he was put out of his misery the very next day, but that’s for another post!
So in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, remember Hawk Eye’s lesson, which she stole from the Boy Scouts – BE PREPARED!
NOTE: raccoons are probably way more intelligent that zombies, so fear a raccoon-apocalypse ahead of a zombie one.
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Reblogged this on WIN FROM THE SKY.
Great info in here, although it is a sad way to learn about the racoon vs chicken match. We lost one of our best layers to an animal attack this past week but I’ll be dipped if I can figure out what animal did it. She still had her head and it happened at noon, so I don’t think it was racoon. I also wonder if a rooster would have helped prevent her death. I hope your other hens recover well. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, it was very sad. They were the last of my first hens. There is a great diagnostic chart for predators in Storey’s Guide to Chickens. If I had to guess at one chicken in the day time I would say dog or (size depending) bird of prey.