11 December 2007

Trouble in the hen house

As if to illustrate the point I made yesterday about life not always being easy, just after I finished my post I heard a ruckus in the hen house. The dogs and I ran out there but a stray dog had somehow got into the backyard and already killed one chook and injured another, one was missing. Hanno came out soon after, caught the dog and locked it in our shed. I picked up big Martha, one of the Rhode Island red girls, and put her on a soft nest to recover. All the other chooks where terrified and up on the roost and nests. We found the other chook later, hiding in the vegetable garden. Hanno looked after the stray during the day - he feed and watered the little dog and combed the burrs out of his coat. The dog handler from the council came yesterday afternoon to collect the stray. I've just been outside to check on the Martha and take these photos and things don't look good for her. I wouldn't be surprised if she dies of delayed shock or an infection from the wounds. We've cleaned her up but dog bites are notorious for causing bad infections. I'm going to cover her with a clean cloth soon so the flies don't cause more problems for her today.

This is Martha on the right, you can see the missing feathers on her back, Cocobelle is the black girl standing guard and Mary is sitting on her eggs on the left.

I candled the eggs under Mary yesterday and I don't think any of them are developing. I'm no expert at candling, in fact this is the first time I've done it, so I haven't given up hope. Mary is still happily sitting on her little treasures so I hope all is well.

The tomatoes in the soil garden are growing incredibly well this year. We have tomatoes everywhere. If they all produce to their promise, I'll have a stockpile cupboard bursting at the seams with sauce, relish and diced tomatoes in February.

We've been very busy at work these past few weeks. Our town is incredibly supportive of the work we do and at the moment we're collecting toys, books, fairy dresses, CDs, sports equipment and lots of other gifts for our disadvantaged kids. We're also organising food hampers full of ham and Christmas food for their parents, and while all this food comes pouring in, and we do it up in festive hampers, we're flat out every day at work. I've also been ringing our local businesses asking for donations for our free Christmas breakfast. It does me good to experience the generosity and kindness of the people here. Almost every time I make a phone call, the response is: "sure, how much do you need!" Of course, it's all put together by the volunteers at the Centre and presented with personalised cards for all the girls and boys, and their parents. I am thankful that I share my days with these people.

I'll be at work again today and in the midst of this busy day to come my visitor counter will probably tick over to the 100,000 mark. I am really pleased with the little community we've all built here. It's not just me, it's also all the people who comment who make this blog what it is. The comments add so much that is thoughtful, friendly and caring, and also lets me know that I'm not just whistling in the wind when I type everyday. Thank you all for visiting and for adding your mark to this little space on the www. I'm looking forward to your next 100,000 visits.

8.05am update: Martha is dead. : (


  1. I wanted to be the first to comment and say what a service you do all around. And I feel so sorry for your chicken.

  2. Oh, no! I hope your chicken picks up again. And that the eggs do fine. I love reading about your hen house... Bad dog!

  3. Sorry to here about your chickens. I hope that she recovers and that the others don't start pecking her because she looks different.

    This summer we lost 17 hens one night when we forgot to close up the hen house. The next night whatever it was came back and got the other 16 when it found a hole at the rafters. We think that it was either a mink or raccoon. We reworked the netting and reordered new chicks. The hatchery kindly put in extra chicks for added warmth, too bad they were 11 extra roosters!

    Hoping that today is a good day!

  4. Hi Rhonda, so sorry about your chookies. stray dogs are a big problem with feathered livestock, they don't have to be strays either, a few months ago the neighbours had some workmen on their place for several months and they never secured their do, a sheep dogcross and he chased our cheep and also got into the chook yard and took chooks during the day. of course these fellows never beleived their dog did this and they thought it great sport that he chased our sheep what idiots, Hope your chookies fully recover and I hope the pound deals with the dog in the appropiate way because once they start killing chooks they will keep on doing it.
    Congrats on your 100,000 visit coming it is a wonderful site and you reinforce everything that we do here. a long winded reply


  5. Poor little Martha, I hope she doesn't suffer for too long.

    Lovely of Hanno to care for that little dog so well while he was with you. He's a good man Rhonda. :-)

  6. Oh Rhonda I'm so sorry you lost Martha. What a terrible shock for you.
    Sending you (((hugs))) from the other side of the world.

  7. sorry to hear of the los of Martha :( I hope your other chooks recover from shock quickly.

    congratulations on your 100000th visitor :)

  8. Oh that's terrible about Martha, we have had dogs get into our chickens too, and have had some die from fright as well as their injuries.

    Congrats on your 100 000th visitor, what an achievement.

    cheers Lenny

  9. Oh poor Martha. :o(
    I was really touched at how sweetly you cared for the stray dog though. You two have enormous, generous hearts and it just makes my day when I take the time to visit and read your blog Rhonda. Please know that you touch hearts through your blog.

  10. Real sorry to hear about the stray dog & the damage he has done.

    Hope your eggs hatch!

    Can you please share how you catch your water for your garden at sometime.

  11. I hope Martha recovers and everything gets back to normal soon. Poor chickens

  12. So sorry that Martha died, Rhonda, hope the other chookies are Ok and get over the shock and that the eggs hatch.

    Sending big hugs to you and your little chook family,


  13. I am so sorry about your hen.

    Its good to know you're not perfect. I always get a bit nervous when someone acts as though I've got it together all of the time!

  14. Rhonda,

    I am so sorry about your hen. I wish I could help you with candling your eggs but I don't know anything about how to do that either.

    Just know I am thinking of you:)

    Lots of Hugs!!


  15. Oh Rhonda, I am so sorry. This is the circle of life sometimes it is sad, But when you love an animal it can be very hard. The best to you and your husband.
    Pam Watts

  16. Sorry about Martha, Rhonda. That's too bad. Hopefully Mary will be bringing along some replacements...I've never candled, so don't know much about it, but time will tell.

  17. never a dull moment around your house!
    I feel sorry for your chickens....does that happen often?

  18. I am so sorry to hear about Martha:(
    I hope that she makes a complete and speedy recovery!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekahead!

  19. Big hugs to you on the loss of your chicken. In the past when I have had trouble with chickens eg one pecking another I have put on some Betadine(you know the brown liquid) and then put on Savlon Antiseptic Powder. This was recommended to me buy a pharmacist who used it on her chickens.Love to see pictures of your very active vegie garden. Keep up the great work.
    Bev C

  20. Oh Rhonda that's so sad.One of our first hen friends was killed by a roaming dog many years ago and it was a terrible shock.

  21. Sorry to hear about Martha {{HUGS}}

  22. We just came home from a Boy Scout meeting and I wanted to check to see if you had any info on Martha. The children heard me say out loud "Oh,no, she died." When they asked who it was and told them that it was your hen...they wanted me to tell you that they would give you one of theirs.

    I had to take them to the map and show them how far around the other side of the world you are, but if we could...we would!

    Hugs from my 5 yo Sarah & 7 yo Douglas because they know how much it hurts whether you loss one friend or 33!

  23. Oh you poor people! I hate it when chooks get chased by dogs...poor Martha...I really hope those eggs work out, will keep watching for progress!

  24. Poor Martha!!! At least she didn't suffer too long.

    I hope you have some success with those eggs you're trying to hatch, I look forward to hearing how you get on.



  25. Oh poor Martha :-( I'm so sorry she had to go in such a horrid way Rhonda... On the other hand, congratulations on your 100,000 visitor!

  26. oh no RJ! Sorry about your poor chook. Lisa J

  27. so sorry Martha didn't make it

  28. So sorry Rhonda-when it rains it pours. Hope the eggs do hatch for you and I hope your surviving girls aren't too afraid of things now. Hugs!!

  29. I feel the same as the others who have commented. Somehow knowing that they were sitting on these eggs makes it more sad.

    Totally off topic Rhonda, I noticed that the bookshow on Radio National is having a program called "travels in blogosphere" on Thursday exploring blogs and writing. Thought you might be interested!

  30. So sorry to hear about poor Martha Rhonda. Marlo

  31. So sorry to hear about Martha.


  32. I'm so sad you lost Martha. What a terrible thing to happen. I hope all your other chooks are okay.
    Take care of you

  33. Sorry about the chook, mate. They do so hate a nasty shock. Lucky of you to only lose one, though. My friend recently lost her entire brood to a pomeranian chicken hawk. Nasty business.

  34. Poor Martha. Sorry for your loss.
    I want to say that I love your blog and read it everyday and have gained some great insight from you. Thank-you.

  35. Rhonda, I'm so sorry about your Martha. You are certainly not whistling in the wind. I read your blog daily and have learn a great deal. If you have the time, I would like to hear about your experiences with worm composting. Thanks for all you do.


  36. Rhonda, I'm so sorry. I hope nothing like this ever happens again.

  37. This is the first time I've ever posted a comment to any blog, but I just had to say I'm sorry about Martha. Your chickens reminded me of a story my mother used to tell me. Mom grew up in the country and had a pet chicken who was picked on by the other chickens because she was so scrawny. My grandmother cut up a pair of old overalls and made the chicken a little outfit to cover her pitiful skin because Mom cried so hard. It was so stiff that Mom's chicken rolled down the hill whenever she tried to walk. Then, of course, the other chickens picked on her even more. Happily, she did survive the stiff clothes and with Mom's sometimes protecting her, lived to a ripe old age. Thank you for sharing your chickens' lives with me. Makes me feel like we are kindred spirits.

  38. Rhonda, so sorry to hear about Martha and the other chook. The other girls must be very frightened. I know you treat your hens as family, so I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you're able to get out and do good things for the world to get your mind off of it. You're an inspiration to a lot of people!

  39. So sad to hear about Martha. {{{Hugs}}}
    We have pet rabbits and our problem here is with foxes. We lost two rabbits a year ago to a fox and adopted two more from a shelter.
    I still have my fingers crossed that the eggs will hatch.
    Best wishes

  40. Thank you all for your concern and kind thoughts for us and our feathered friends. Martha and Coco Chanel lead a free and easy life here and it was sad to see them died in such a violent way.

    On a more positive note, I had an email from Helen, who sent the eggs, and now I'm more positive about the eggs Mary is sitting on. When I candled the eggs, I couldn't see any blood vessels but Helen says a shadow is good too. We have shadows! Shadows and air sacks. So maybe...... : ) I'm candling again today on the strength of Helen's email and I'll let you know what I find.

    Christine, how sweet of Sarah and Douglas. Would you please send me your postal address as I'd like to send them a card.

    Bev, thanks for the quick treatment for infections. I'll get some power and try it on future needs.

    Anonymous, thanks for your first ever comment and for sharing your mum's story.


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