Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Forensic Science

A tragedy befell us this past Saturday. The girls found all but one of our half grown chicks dead in the barn isle. Five little bodies had been mauled, but left largely intact. Those of us used to the occasional chicken thief know that varmits (raccoons, opposums, weasels and even foxes) will generally only come in the mask of dusk, dawn, or into the night. Varmits also generally will eat the chicken, leaving little behind. This was murder in broad daylight.

The chicks were in a homemade chicken tractor on legs. The rabbit wire was curled back from where it was nailed on the inside, pushed up from the bottom by an obviously large animal. Varmits won't go to such effort, pulling the wire back only enough to squeeze in, and they can squeeze into holes you might not believe until you've seen it. This could only have been accomplished by a large dog, and our neighbor's unruly border collie/black lab mix was seen in our yard that morning. She has before been observed harrassing our chickens in our other chicken tractor. Yet, we did not witness the event. I am debating on whether to notify the neighbor that his dog is a suspect in this crime, yet I wonder what it would accomplish. Perhaps he will understand why I call him to come get his dog every time I see it from now onward.

As I said, all but one was dead, my girls distraught. One chick was missing. Frankly, I had hoped that the bird was dead and in the jaws of the perpetrator, so there was no mistake how this happened. Daisy, our beagle/lab mix, however, was following a scent. Picking up on this, we gave her the "find it" signal and off she went. For awhile, we looked around in the brush for the chick, an Aracuana hen, the chick I would have chosen to live if I had only one choice. Out of the corner my eye, I saw the chick running with Daisy in fast pursuit. We called her off, but not before the chick escaped in the underbrush and according to Daisy, through the fence into the neighbor's yard.

Daisy was put on a leash, and I gingerly climbed the fence which is topped with barbed wire, had Lauren hand 40 lbs. of dog over the fence, and said "find it" without giving my command much thought. Now, 40 lbs. may not seem like much, but 40 lbs. on a scent is determination. She pulled me so that my arm shot out and I leaned backwards to try to stop her. Just as I came to a more upright position and rounded the neighbor's greenhouse, we hit a mud slick. I went down like a stone. My entire backside was oozing, stinking mud. My girls cackled at me through the fence. Very funny.

Daisy kept coming back to the same bush, on the OTHER side of the fence, our side. Sure enough, the hen was there. Heaps of praise were given to Daisy. In case you may wonder if she were the murderer, think again. She is afraid of chickens for the most part, except when tracking which has less to do with the chicken than the game of finding, and she wouldn't even look at the chicken once she found it.


Barbara M said...

Cathy ...

I am enjoying your blog. Whatever did you decide to do about the murder suspect?

Junosmom said...

I did speak to the neighbor finally. He actually came over one day to deliver a package of ours mistakenly taken to his house. After thanking him for the package, I told him what had happened and that I suspected his dog, and why. He winced and said that she probably did do it. He knew that she'd been over the fence that day. He said he was very sorry. I was mentioning it, I told him, even though I didn't see the dog do it, because my kids were distraught over it. He said that he was trying to keep her penned when he was gone, and was hoping to put in a five board fence in the near future between our properties (thinking this will keep her from crossing, which I doubt as board fences often have low spots dogs can get under). I told him that I appreciated his efforts but that I would tie up the dog when I saw her and then call him. He said that was fine. I mentioned that she was endangering my children by chasing the horses, and he said he's been trying to teach her to not bark at them when the horses are in the paddock, near his property.

All in all, he reacted well, and was apologetic. The only thing that could've been better is that when I or mine do damage, I offer to in some way compensate the party injured. It isn't that it was a lot of money, (though it was a great loss of time, for it takes time to grow up chicks), but the principle of the thing. I try to teach my kids that it isn't enought to say sorry, but you have to also do something to somehow repair. I don't see that happening in today's world a lot.


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