There is nothing more infuriating then losing livestock - especially just before they are schedule to go to the great barbeque in the sky.
Fair warning... you might want to put down that bagel or eggomuffin... this is going to be gross. No pictures but your imagination will be more than enough.... I said I'd only tell you the Truth About Farming and it's not always about roses and ducklings..... I'm not kidding. Turn back now....here, you can look at Little Mo instead... he's the cutest cat I've ever seen. Last chance...You know I'm not kidding.
OK. Here we go then. Yesterday I went out to do chores. Admittedly I was not in a huge hurry to get outside. So I meandered out to open the door for the meat chickens. I was then confronted with the horror of varmint villainy. Two of our meat chickens were grievously wounded.
There is no easy way to say this, friend, them meats had been chewed on. As in, pretty much they had been partially eaten. Alive. Their rear quarter panels were open down to the flesh.
Did you puke? I nearly did.
Normally I don't like to touch the meat chickens - they are gross and decidedly not chicken-like. But I had to get those two up and separated from the herd. It was disgusting. I didn't even have gloves.
Despite their wounds they were still upright alright but they were panicked. I got ahold of them, put them in a separate pen, and called my husband. He agreed to come home as soon as he could. Unfortunately it would be a couple hours. I thought they might flop over dead on their own.
So my day changed immediately. We needed to take action. Our original plan was to butcher the meats on Saturday and we had just rearranged our schedule so we could get that job done. Three days. Three stinkin' days and this would never have happened.
And. It was entirely my fault. The burden of responsibility hangs heavy on a shepherd or flockkeeper. The truth is that the night before the motion sensor light turned on. I peeped my eyes open just in time to see it go off and I listened but didn't hear anything suspicious. So I foolishly went back to sleep. I should have hauled my lazy carcass out of bed, got the dog, and went to see what was going on...... but I deliriously rationalized away this correct call to action. Don't do that, friends. Just get up.
So what got them? You know that we've been dealing with that slinky mink. But I don't think that weaselly bastard was the culprit - a mink/weasel/whatnot would have just eaten off their heads. A raccoon probably would have tried to drag them off or at least had the decency to kill them. Possum? Maybe. Skunk - don't think so.. which leaves... rats. I do hate me them rats. And them must be big ones too.
Public Enemy #1 lives in the woods and they come on in for some easy pickin's. Then they end up staying. We've been fighting them all summer. At this point you could say we are losing.
The reason I didn't hear anything is that most poultry don't panic at night. Taking chickens off their roost at night is like shooting fish in a barrel. Turkeys can't see in the dark and you remember when something pulled that guinea clean off his high roost - and not even a sound. During the day, sure, all you hear is your flocks making all kinda noise but not at night. Some folks will put baby monitors in their coops and will hear ne'erdowelling that way. We might have to resort to this until we can get them rat bastards.
Either way we needed to move the meat chickens out of the turkey house pronto. It was clear they were sitting ducks where they were. I was supposed to work on getting new turkey pens set up yesterday - and I was going to go about it at a slow pace. Not so after this grim find. I shifted into high gear.
The good news is that we are getting our money's worth out of the garbage guys today and we'll have a burn pile the likes of which this county will be talking about for years. And I found the floor of the garage too! After shoveling everything out I was able to make some space. A quick trip down to the feed store for a hog panel (cut in half) and voila! We were ready for action.
By this time The Big Man got home and we got to work.
We quickly disassembled the two turkey pens and re-assembled a new configuration so that we now have 4 pens. After a short taste of freedom we rounded up the turkeys and installed them, 7 each, into 3 pens and then hauled the meats over and put them into the 4th pen.
Our garage is now a meat mecca. So many creepy meat birds in one place. Oh the stink.
The barncats did not like this at all. My lame duck and equally lame older hen who live in the garage, safely away from eager roos and love-struck ducks, thought it was mildly interesting.... as long as they still got their special eats they didn't much care one way or another about their big lumbering, meat like neighbors.
To my surprise the injured meats lived thru the day but were quickly dispatched. There was no way to try and save any of the carcasses. They were just too gross and the risk of some kind of infection was way too high. We didn't even try and save them for dog food. We were just too grossed out.
Today we'll be hunting rats. Kai is eager for battle. Last night I took her on her Bunny Hunt in the Goat Yard. She immediately scented her enemy, poised, and then struck like lightening. She threw down the ruined carcass of a mole, a big creepy one, at me feet. We hailed her victory and she received many accolades - and some special meat. Those rats won't stand a chance.
That's the story here. Any body else miss a full harvest by just days?