Monday, February 6, 2012

A stupid person's dog

Here's what we could find of the carnage in and outside our barn yesterday, caused by some neighbor's dog.

Four chickens were killed, crushed to death. One remains missing. The rest were terrified, but managed to run away and hide in crevices and corners.

All this happened in the short space of time, less than an hour and a half, between taking the photo in yesterday's post of the chickens happily sunning themselves in front of the barn, and nightfall when I went out to lock everyone up.

Ernie and I found him in the north paddock, which is being used as the winter sacrifice area for chickens and our very pregnant ewes. I chased him around the paddock with the crook, trying to snag a leg, or at least give him a good-enough blow that he wouldn't come back. When that didn't work, I opened the gate enough for him to squeeze out.

Even so, he still hung around, no doubt hoping to have more "fun", squeezing the life out of our helpless birds. I ran for the rifle and called for Aimee, and we tried to get the Jackson animal control officer's number while I had a bead on him, but the number we had was an old one.

I was in a quandary as to what to do. Although it was dusk, I had a clear shot. I could have killed him or mortally wounded him with some ease, and that would have been the end of the problem. But, I suppose, we wanted to give the owners a chance to do right.

Poor terrified chickens.

And poor sad farmers. I feel a huge responsibility for having not adequately protected them.

We know which dog this is. It's some kind of sled-dog cross, one of those stupid breeds like an akita or husky that can never be trained, and run for ever if they get out. There's no doubt what he did. Ernie and I caught him red-handed when we went out at dusk. We have been seeing this dog on and off for several months. Mostly off, so that implies his owners do keep him tied up or in a pen most of the time. We just don't know who they are.

Aimee said to fire just to scare him off. I did so. Hopefully the owners heard the shot. And I will go to the Town Office early today to see if I can't find out who this animal belongs to.

We don't want money for our birds. We just want to tell the owners to be more careful, and to put them on notice that the next time I see this dog on our land, it will be shot.

I took three of the four hens and plucked and cleaned and froze them. Although their flesh is bruised and bloody, they were fat birds and will make nutritious soup. The fourth, nearly four years old now, was too scrawny. Aimee said that only one was a new bird and thus a regular layer. All will be replaced this spring. So no great loss except to my pride as a farmer and the protector of home and hearth.

But if that dog comes back and goes after our precious lambs in April, that will be another story. Lambs are yet more valuable than chickens and we have friends and customers who rely on us for the nutritious meat and high quality breeders we raise.

Plus, no one in their right mind, least of all a shepherd, wants to think of a poor baby lamb having the life squeezed out of it by some mindless bloodthirsty dog, whose owners are probably too stupid to care.

Aimee said that it wasn't the dog's fault, but the owners who should be shot.

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