Sunday, June 6, 2010

Willa and the Zombie Chicken

I’m one of those people that can usually find the humor in anything. Sometimes I just really find things amusing; other times I use humor to deflect my true feelings. Then there are those times where something is so traumatic it takes me awhile before I can look back and laugh about it.

This chicken died the other night. Then she greeted me at the coop door the next morning wanting her share of the scratch grains.

I was just a tad bit freaked out by it.

You see, the night before I had witnessed, with my very own eyes, the brutal pouncing and murder of the undead chicken by this individual.

It happened during the routine nightly ritual of tucking all the critters in for the night. It’s a complicated system, a certain order has to be followed to keep the peace amongst all the residents.

The goats need to be tucked into their goat grotto first so that the sheep can cross the goat pasture to get to the barn. Only then can Willa be let out to start on her nightly patrol.

Now that the sheep are in the North pasture the chickens have a pasture all to themselves. Chickens are smart enough to tuck themselves in at night so all a farmer has to do is shut the coop doors behind them. I had just finished shutting one of them that night when I heard the ruckus begin.

It seems the zombie chicken formerly known as Prius had jumped the fence and landed in the goat pasture -- where Willa was. I hadn’t seen her because of all the tall grass, and frankly wouldn’t have been looking for her back there because we’ve never had one of the fat bottom girls jump the fence before.

I’m not sure who scared who first, but all of sudden the dog was jumping up and down barking and feathers were flying everywhere. There were 200 yards and two fences between me and them. In my panic, I actually thought I would jump one of them as I took off in a flat-0ut run to save Prius. Luckily, my weenie muscles and  poor aching bones reminded my brain that I don’t have super human strength or the ability to fly and so I resorted to going all the way around and through the gates. 

I was screaming at Willa the whole way to “leave it.” A command the other dogs grasped easily in obedience class but Willa never has.  Even when I reached them she still didn’t want to give up the now lifeless chicken. I was armed with only a small, empty plastic Folgers can in my hand which I threw at her. I was more than a little hysterical by this point. My hysteria is what finally got her to let go. She didn’t even notice the can.

I scooped up the chicken and stumbled through the tall grass and brush back to the chicken pasture. Prius wasn’t moving.  She was wet with slobber and half her feathers were missing. I couldn’t tell if she was breathing or not because I was actually hyperventilating myself. I had witnessed the 100 pound dog pounce on the 2 pound chicken, so I knew she was dead.  I was beyond furious, having a hard time breathing and it was getting dark. I still needed to finishing locking up the chicken coop so I left the lifeless little body just inside the door and planned to bury her first thing in the morning.

I stayed mad at Willa all night. Mad because she chases chickens. Mad because she wouldn’t “leave it.” Mad because she made me throw the can.

It was raining the next morning when I walked out with a shovel. Still mad. I opened the chicken doors and out scampered the chickens. Once they passed by I looked in to get Prius only she wasn’t there. Then my brain caught up with my eyes and I nearly gave myself whiplash when I turned to see that Prius had just walked past me with all the other birds.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. “She’s ALIVE” I thought. “What the?!”

Apparently chickens know how to play dead. Or she was in shock. Or she came back to life as a zombie chicken.

No matter how much I want to, I can’t stay mad at Willa. She was just doing her job. Because if that 100 pound dog really wanted to kill that 2 pound chicken, it really would be dead. I now think she was trying to help catch it. From now on we’ll just have to lock the chickens up first and conduct a beak count before releasing the hound. And we’ll have to keep working on that whole “leave it” thing.

As for the zombie chicken? Well, I don’t think we have to worry about her jumping the fence again. She’s now the very first chicken in the coop at night.


Michelle said...

Poor Willa; the big puppy is trying so hard to do her job! But YAY for zombie chickens!!!

Kristine said...

We've had that happen with a chicken that was attacked by a fox. Please do let us know if you find Zombie Prius perched at the end of your bed one night eyeballing you, clucking "buk, buk, brains" ;)

Robin said...

You said you found amusement in everything and while I don't think you meant this to be an amusing post, it did make me smile - sigh

kristi said...

Life is never dull when surrounded by animals! Glad all ended well:)

Dorothy said...

Loved the story of the chicken and the dog. Still have a smile on my face.

Nancy K. said...

I think I would have had a heart attack!
Both when running to try to save the chicken and when seeing the chicken the next morning!

Good Willa!

I'm glad she's OK. What a story you have to tell...

Karen Anne said...

I was so glad for the chicken, and then I thought, what if you'd buried her last night... Shades of horror movies of old.

Tammy said...

I'm very glad that zombie chicken survived! One of those lovely unexpected surprises. Years ago my neighbors were visiting and their dog helped himself to one of my chickens. (Unbeknownest to us). As I walked them half way home on the gravel road, we started seeing little piles of black feathers. uh oh....When they got home Shadow still had the chicken, they got it from him and wrapped her up in a sweatshirt and I dashed down to get her. She had deep puncture wounds on her back and hardly any feathers left, so I didn't expect her to live. I treated the punctures, put her in a cage and the next morning she was up and about wanting breakfast! That was a great surprise. As for Willa and her 'leave it', you might try a clicker if you haven't. It worked very well with Boone who has a huge prey drive. The clicker and some yummy treats worked wonders.
Thanks for the great story.

SharonK said...

A lucky hen or what??? My kids have saved one of my hens from a fox's mouth before and she was traumatised, but didn't 'play' dead. Just needed lots of cuddles on my lap and she was fine. Great story with a lovely ending though. Certainly made me smile because I could just picture myself acting like you did lil.

John Gray said...

now I have never seen this behaviour in an attack only when being brutally mated with....
great description of the nocturnal routine....I know it so well

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Wow, now that was an exciting story! I was getting more and more stressed as I read... :-)
So glad it all worked out.
And, consider yourself very lucky.... As the mother of two boys I can personally attest that: Zombies are super COOL!!

Jayne said...

Oh my gosh! I probably would've screamed seeing Prius the Un-Dead.

Homeschool on the Croft said...

That was a very funny read! But I just have to comment on that gorgeous dog. Wow! She is a stunner and if you ever fell the need to send her out for adoption, please let me know.
Did I mention I thought she was gorgeous? 'Cos she is.
Is she a 'she'? I think I picked up on that, but if not, please forgive me. I wouldn't want to upset that gorgeous mutt in any way!!
Love, Anne (in Scotland) x