Thursday, April 1, 2010

AMAZING CHICKENS!

First, I must start at the beginning. Last night I watched a program on PBS about people and their amazing chickens. The first story told of a chicken named Valerie and her owner Janet Bonney, who resided in Harpswell, Maine. In February of 1995 Janet found her hen under the front porch of her home frozen. Janet brought the chicken inside and attempted to place her into a shoe box for burial. Valerie being so stiff that her leg's would not bend - Janet began to warm her body slowly with a hot water bottle. After fifteen minutes of doing so Janet noticed the little hen take a breath. For the next three hours Janet warmed the little hen's body and gave mouth to mouth resuscitation. I promise this is true! Once completely warmed Valerie stood, clucked and decided she was no worse for wear. Over time Janet did state that the once scraggly hen evolved into a beauty and noticed the pecking order in the hen house had consequently changed in Valerie's favor.
Next was the story of Mike the rooster who lived 4 1/2 years without a head. His story began in the 1940's as told in Life and Time magazines and holds a place in the Guinness book of world records. Mike was intended for the soup pot. His owner chopped his head off, but Mike ran around the barnyard as chicken do, but Mike simply would not die! Seeing Mike's determination to stay alive his owner provided food and water via an eye dropper. Mike was given constant care however, died after chocking on a kernel of corn when his owner had forgotten the eye dropper. Scientist determined Mike survived because his brain stem had been kept intact and also from the quality of care provided by the family. Now my story. The photo below is the posture of a hen who knows danger is lurking. Tail feathers out, neck stretched, intently listening.
Today, the weather was perfect: sunny and warm. The girls were let loose and enjoying the day running around the yard. Winslow Homer and I were in the backyard too. The girls were just slightly behind their coop. All too quickly circumstances changed, a cluck turned into an all out warning, feathers flying and girls scrambling. A fox snatched not one, but two of my girl's! I could not believe what I was seeing, the fox began dragging both Buffs across to the next field, but eventually did drop one, Iris. My heart sank as I watched the fox leave with Charlotte in it's mouth and eventually out of my sight. How did this happen? The day being so perfect, I was right there, but yet saw and heard nothing until it was too late. Winslow by this time was on the run, back tracked around the field in the direction of the fox and deep into our woods.

Poor sweet Charlotte, I felt I had let her down I was unable to rescue her.
It made me ill to see her beautiful feathers scattered about. I hoped her demise was overly quickly. Winslow returned and the fox circled around and eventually disappeared. I gathered the girls and put them in their pen. A sense of sadness filled the air. I sat outdoors with the girls for awhile offering extra treats, reassuring them things would be okay. A neighbor happened to stop by after he had encountered Winslow running through the field and wondered if something was wrong. I explained what had occurred. He felt bad as he too has chickens, but stated that he does not let them free range. I now need to think twice about that. We mulled over the situation and then said our "good luck" and "goodbyes". I gathered my gardening supplies before heading indoors for dinner when just over by the back of the house and protected by the lilacs...........................
I saw a Buff. "Honey one of the hens is loose", but wait a minute, I counted combs and to my amazement all nine hens were in their pen, how could this possibly be? I saw that fox take my girl in her mouth and carry her across the field deep into the woods.
But it is true she is alive! Lost a lot of feathers, one wing is sore, and she limps, but she is alive! Somehow she escaped the wrath of that fox and had the fortitude to travel in the right direction home, home to the safety of her pen and her sister's. Charlotte is my amazing chicken.
Now, I realize what you are thinking that this is April Fool's Day, but this is a true story, a true story with a happy ending. It also happens to be the birthday of my late maternal grandmother and she too loved chickens. I told my girl's, girl's you have a guardian angel watching over you, thank you Grammy Lile. Of course it doesn't hurt to have Winslow Homer on your side!

24 comments:

A New England Life said...

OMGosh Julie! I had my heart in my throat. I just felt so bad for Charlotte, but I also know that is the way of the animal world. Hard to believe the fox ever dropped her. Amazing.

Winslow Homer should be getting extra treats for the next few days!

Kathy in KY said...

I'm so glad you had a happy ending to your day! Yes, I've seen the PBS special too, and remember the woman who rescusitated her hen. It was a very interesting show, as most are on PBS. I love Buffs, and would like to own some someday when I can live in the country again.

Robin said...

That is very cool! I'm glad that you didn't lose her after all.

Rural Rambler said...

Oh My Gosh Julie. My heart was in my throat, tears rolling down my cheeks, my heart was breaking for you and I was so so sad for Iris and Charlotte. I hate seeing a pile of feathers on a blog where I know there is a chicken mama that loves her girls. It's never a good sign. And then you had such wonderful news! A little miracle today with the help of your Grammy Lile :) And Winslow, Good DOG Winslow, GOOD DOG!

henbogle said...

Yikes! I am so glad poor Charlotte escaped from the jaws of Mr. Fox. I suspect it was due to the heroic efforts of Winslow Homer. I hope he got some extra treats, to!

Eve said...

I'm not going to tell you, Julie, that I'm sitting her crying my eyes out! I just knew Winslow the wonder dog would be the hero of this story! He is THE MAN!!! And Grammy Lile IS an angel! That fox needs a good CRACK!! I hope Charlotte recovers well.
I'm thinking of you too!

Laura said...

That is amazing! Lucky lucky Charlotte, what a big surprise.
I hate to pen them up too, they are so happy out pecking around but I have lost two of my nine hens so far this year to my own dogs.

Cedar ... said...

Oh goodness,.... I was reading all this with tears in my eyes as I have dearly loved your pics of your girls. And now the happy ending. Please give Charlotte a special treat from her Aunt Cedar and one for Winslow Homer too. I am so happy to read the end of the story.

Rural Revival said...

Oh my goodness, what a day you've all had. I'm very relieved to hear that everything turned out well in the end. That's some guardian angel those girls have!

Be well ~Andrea~

Kim said...

OMG if this isn't an April Fool's it is an amazing story.

Farm Girl said...

I am sooo glad that your got Charlotte back! That fox must have been very hungry to come right up to where you were too. Watch Charlotte, I know this will sound very nutty, but I had a hen that a fox did the same thing with, and she got away too, but she turned into a rooster!!
She had been laying eggs and then after that happened she/he started growing and growing and turned into
a giant rooster. His name became
Marshall Dill pickle. I asked someone and they said, it can be brought on by extreme stress.
I love that you had a happy ending.
Great post by the way!! Hooray for Winslow Homer.

Missouri Gal Nicole said...

I'm glad your hen is okay! I was so upset there for a bit!!!!

Anonymous said...

Aand all is well that ends well. Maybe chicks have ten lives too. Thats my boy Winslow.

Lisa said...

I tried the free range route when I first got my girls. It worked out fine for awhile-but then the trouble began. My girls will chase songbirds out of the yard, eat the insulation off of our foundation, eat the lead paint off of the barn (so I then cannot eat or sell their eggs) and to top it all off, dig,dig, dig! They tore my lawn to sheds in several locations-so, they now reside in a chicken tractor whilst outside. Not too mention, my neighbor has cats. One of her cats weighs 22 pounds and has been known to go after wild turkeys! I catch them sneaking up my driveway to where my girls are confined-so they are just safer in their tractor-along with the paint, insulation and lawn all being a lot safer too!

Ginny said...

So glad Charlotte is okay, I sure she will get much needed attention. Maybe Winslow Homer nipped that fox in his fluffy butt!!

the primitive country bug said...

Oh Julie, I'm so glad all your girls are home safely, espeically little Charlotte!
I hope that ol' fox learned a lesson not to pick on your girls anymore. Hooray for Winslow Homer!!
Hugs to you and Happy Easter Blessings~ Birgit

Genny said...

Wow, I'm so happy, after reading, that Charlotte survived and actually found her way back home. It must have been heart wrenching to watch all of that unfold. I hope Charlotte recovers with no ill effects, brave girl. I saw the PBS special too and just loved all the stories.

Razzberry Corner said...

Now that is quite the story, complete with a happy ending! I also have a hen named Charlotte, and she looks quite similar to your Charlotte.

Right now we do not let our hens roam free, but we planned on it. My husband built a huge fenced-in area behind the coop for them for the time being. We figured after we let the flock free-range, the fenced-in area can be kept for injured birds, or for birds with babies, etc. Now I'm not sure about the whole free range idea. We have lots of foxes, I've seen them in my backyard during the day. I don't know that I could handle my "babies" being snatched up and taken away, I've really gotten attached to my chickens!

I'm so happy that Charlotte is alive, I'm sure she's pretty stressed. I hope she doesn't turn into a rooster like Farm Girl's hen did!!

~Lynn

missthesea said...

She sure is an AMAZING chicken! I'm so happy she's okay! I was bawling reading this.. so happy there is a happy ending to it. I'll see you (and Charlotte the amazing chicken) tomorrow!

Kritter Keeper said...

all i can say is omg!! how lucky and let it be a warning. they have cute little moveable hen 'things' in the back of nice chicken magazines. funny, mom and i were just talking about it...the moveable pens have little curved roofs and the chickens can peck in the grass safely. they are moveable so each day it could be placed on a different patch of ground. however, my inclination would be to get a great pyranees. they allow nothing in the yard. julie, your heart sank once, rose to a great relief and now you must prevent that fox from repeating the attack. you were lucky. i am so happy your babies are living and i pray she will recover completely...foxes are so sneaky and silent! good luck!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Amazing story! Just recently watched the Natural History of the Chicken on PBS also. Wow! I keep watching it over and over via dvr. And I say your Charlotte is just amazing as that mama hen in the end (which is my favorite part - when she survived the hawk attack protecting her babes). So glad it all worked out okay for your girls! Bless Grammy Lile & Winslow Homer as well :) -Tammy

DayPhoto said...

I had that happen once. A fox grabed a hen that was standing right by me. I gave chase but the hen and I lost.

I'm so glad your girl is all right!
Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

Brenda said...

The Natural History of the Chicken is available in many parts on Youtube.com, FYI. Quite entertaining! I don't have cable so it was nice to still be able to see it.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is a couple years old but I just came across it, having seen the PBS show about chickens, and Janet Bonney's Valerie.

But what happened to Iris, she was still alive when the fox dropped her and came home?

I hope you are still enjoying your chickens and haven't lost any more to predators.