I’m really late with this newsletter but its probably because of the attack I suffered from a ferocious farm animal.
An attack chicken!
How about this for the week’s headline. Mad Mother Hen attack’s Farmer!
And, yes, it was upsetting. And yes, it did hurt, and yes, if she hadn’t had a little chick looking up to her with rapt admiration and attention she might very well have earned herself a future as the centerpiece in a formal dinner.
And it might still have happened, only, only I don’t much like to pluck chickens (and Wenonah is generally pretty small about it when it comes to plucking fowl.
Not only did the hen in question jump out of no where, wings flapping and beak pecking, but when I stepped back in shock. Yes with blood dripping from the wound she inflicted on my hand, but when I stood back in shock she came at me again, wings flapping, and this time aiming her vicious beck at my eyes.
I side stepped the second attack and, standing there there in utter amazement thought. “Is this what motherhood does to you? Turns a, by all indications, rational female into a raving lunatic.”
All in the defense of a lone child (or in this case a chick).
And remember. I was innocent. This was all a misunderstanding. An unprovoked, uninitiated chicken attack.
But before we get more involved in the story let’s cover the farm news.
Today was an important day. Today we started planting (Yes, a gamble. A gamble that the year’s last frost is a thing of the past for 2009.
This morning, starting at 7:30 we planted something like 6000 seedlings. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, pac choi, Brussels sprouts. We filled up the far section of the lower field (if you’ve been out to the farm that’s the field to the right you can see from our deck).
Then this afternoon we started on onions. We first had to do some field prep but once we got started we planted almost 4000. About 16000 still to go.
So let’s go back to the story of the violent mother.
It was Wednesday, the evening with all that rain.
I had gone out to the barn. The chickens in the field were in need of food and I store the chicken mash just inside the barn door. Several tons of chicken feed in 50 pound bags.
On the left was a short stack of maybe five bags.
I reached down to pick up a bag. Grabbed it, picked up the fifty pound bag, and just as I was throwing it up over my shoulder it happened.
I was attacked.
Mother hen was hiding behind the sacks of feed. She had already lost one of her chicks somewhere teh day before. One moment it was following her. The next it was gone.
But apparently she wasn’t going to let it happen to this one.
I picked up the bag. The baby chick let out a squeak.
And momma chicken jumped into action.
Fluffed out her wings, screamed once, and attacked. Grabbing ahold of my hand with her beak.
I jumped back in shock, looking around for the assailant. Thinking, wild animal. alligator (did I ever tell you the time a momma alligator almost got my leg all because her babies started squeeling in dismay? It must be in a newsletter or blog somewhere) eagle, hawk,, porcupine?
And then seeing it was a chicken.
I was prepared to give her a good, swift, kick. let her go flying across the barn yard. Imagine a chicken having the gall to attack a human?
And here she came again.
This time flapping her wings, up off the ground and aiming right for my face.
Fortunately I side stepped. Instead of hitting me in the face, she crashed into a stack of twenty feed bags.
Instantly she was back in the corner, Cawing and guarding her chick..
We stood there for a moment. Staring. How dare her. And then… And then I turned and walked out of the barn.
Maybe she would be the rare mother chicken that raised her chick to adulthood.
Later that night there was another predator out by the chicken yard. Around 2 am I was up and looking around. The weather forecast was calling for a late frost. (it didn’t happen).
I was up, though, looking at the thermometer and walking around the fields, making sure nothing untold was happening.
And then that’s when I saw the eyes.
It was one of those dark nights. A night where you needed a flashlight so you wouldn’t trip over your own feet.. A heavy drizzle and a wet fog hanging over the fields almost like a wet felt blackout curtain.
That’s when I saw it. I was flashing the light back and forth across the field. Trying to slice open the darkness.
It was over by the chicken yard. In the glow of the flashlight, two of the largest, bluest eyes staring back at me.
What sort of animal’s eyes reflects bright blue eyes? Not just blue but bright, almost iridescent blue.
Predator? Grass-eater? Omnivore?
I started to close the distance between me and the eyes. Trying to keep the light aimed right at the eyes. (if you keep a light on a deer’s eyes, my experience is, she won’t look away. You can walk almost all the way up on her. Slowly, slowly, until you are right next to her).
This animal, though, wasn’t a deer, as I walked closer it blinked once, then again, then took off and disappeared into the drizzle.
One moment it was there and the next it had just disappeared. Vanished. Swallowed up by the darkness.
There I stood, swinging the light back and forth. The only thing was the sound of the light rain.
The chickens seemed unconcerned so I went back to the house.