The ‘real’ life of a smallholder

Clearly, it’s not all baskets of veggies, loaves of bread and days that pass in serendipity. This morning when I got up I was greeted by the one thing that every small holder fears, death of an animal.

I went out to release the chickens from their pen and put fresh water out for the duck. I had some blueberries that I was going to give them as a treat. What I was met with was not something I ever want to see again. I thought something was up as soon as I saw the duck in her water bucket. She never gets in it. She drinks it, splashes in it, but never gets IN it. Naturally now, I know why. For waterfowl, getting in water is a normal reaction to predator fear. All of our chickens had been slaughtered. Not one was left alive, but only one was missing. It was horrific, they were all missing their heads but the bodies (the part with the meat ?!) were still there. I apologise for being gruesome, but this, (bar causing me to burst into tears as our birds are not bred for meat, they are egg layers and our friends) is not usually something a fox will do. Sure they will kill them all, but normally they come and take them to their den. We can only surmise that she (I’m saying she as it’s Spring and she’s probably a mama with hungry mouths to feed) got the smallest one back over the fence the way she got in, but realised it was actually too hard (we do have, what we thought was a pretty fox proof pen and she’d have had to have jumped from a wobbly part up around 4ft over a fence to land 6ft down with a heavy 9 or so lb bird in her mouth.) and thus left the rest. I figure something ELSE came in and decapitated as there were no remains of heads to be seen, so either weasels took them away or even owls are known to take bird heads and we do have some very close at the moment.

This is one of the horrid downsides to producing your own and having any form of pet or livestock. We are now in the process of clearing out the pen to rid the smell and the feathers from everywhere, heightening the weak spots by a further 4ft to make the fence 10ft and then we’ll need to get a few more in time.

It’s hard when this happens, even when you know the fox was hungry and trying to feed her babies 😦

My girls living their best life.

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