Well, we had some tough times with our chickens. We had a total of 7 chickens and they were doing well.
Then one day they were free-ranging and something (we think a fox) got one of them…she was just GONE. Now we were down to 6.
Then another day something (again, we think a fox) got another one…she was gone but there were feathers left behind everywhere. Now we were down to 5. Then one day we were sitting on the back deck and the chickens were free ranging right in front of us. Next thing you know my daughter says “is that a fox?” we look up and not more than 70 feet from us is a fox with my Easter Egger chicken in its mouth! We jump and run towards him and he drops the chicken who comes running to me. She had a small wound under her wing which we cleaned and back to the flock she goes!
The following week we went out for the evening and I forgot to tell someone to lock the coop up. Around 10:30p I get a text from my daughter saying that something got in the run and one of the red chickens was hurt. She must have been fighting it off (again we think a fox) and when I went to the coop area she was just lying on the ground (all the other chickens were safe in the coop)…but she wasn’t dead. We brought her in and cleaned her wounds. We thought she was going to die but she pulled through and was in the sick bay (ie my sun porch) for about 2 weeks. When she (we referred to her as the ‘Sicken chicken’) was strong enough to go back out the flock (of now 4 chickens) wouldn’t accept her and kept pecking at her and chasing her. It was sad especially since she probably saved them all that night.
So we decided to get some new younger chickens for her so she could have her own flock. We got 3 Bielefelder chicks that were 7 weeks old…and she perked up and became the mommy chicken and protector to them.
My husband and son built a new smaller coop right next to the big coop and we hoped that eventually they would all become one flock. But, a week later something (we think a fox again) got in and got my new baby chicks and mortally wounded the Sicken…she had a deep wound on her chest which I cleaned but within a few hours she died.
Now we were down to 4 chickens. And one night something (we think a raccoon this time because it actually unlatched the coop) and killed all 4 chickens…or so we thought. My son texted me at 2 a.m. and said that something got the chickens and they were all dead. The next morning when I went out I heard one clucking really loud…here one of the Red ones hid up in a tiny tree that’s in the corner of the run! So, now I was down to just 1 chicken which just wouldn’t do! So we got 3 Red chickens (7 weeks old) and a Rhode Island Red chicken and a Barred Rock chicken (11 weeks old).
And we decided it was time to get a dog to ‘guard’ our chickens. Or at least ‘mark’ the territory so no predators would want to come around. So we adopted ‘Maximus’ from our local SPCA.
He is a 10 month old St. Bernard. He is a great dog. Loves the kids…and my chickens!
Which brings me to Saint Roch whose feast day is today, August 16, and who is the patron saint of dogs. There is a lot of legend surrounding his history so it’s hard to determine what is really accurate. St. Roch was born around 1295 in Montpelier and was a French noble. He had great empathy for the poor and sick and renounced his nobility and wealth and traveled to Rome where he cared for plague victims in Italy. Eventually he contracted the plague himself and ran off to the woods to die. He was befriended by a hunting dog who brought him food and licked his wounds which began to heal.