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Justine and kate

August 2, 2012

My flagging career is on hiatus until some technical problems are sorted out, so I’m using

the time to prepare the farm for the annual garden party this Saturday.  More on both of

those topics soon.  I have something heavier to share.


Yesterday morning after the hens had finished laying, I moved them from the new garden,

where the coop is, to the old garden, where the blueberry grove is.  I thought about putting

Slinkee in the house before I did that, but I had seen Jude use her as sort of a herder, and

the girls were insistent about the transfer.


Chickens don’t grasp the concept that the shortest distance between two points is a straight

line, but they eventually made it.  Slinkee was actually of some help, although I had to keep

her nearby so she wouldn’t go after stragglers.


An hour later I heard a sharp squawk.  I called Slinkee several times but she didn’t respond.

I found here in the blueberry bushes with Justine’s body.  She had snuck in and bitten her

head, breaking her neck.  Furious, I yelled at her and took her out of the garden.  I did a

quick count of the others and picked up Justine.


The only clear thought I had for awhile was to put her body in the freezer for our friend Lee.

Beyond that, I was wholly nonplussed.  I felt terrible.  I sat in the tree swing and tried to



But irrationality ruled.  For one thing, I fell into a dark place about failing as a protector.

And that got me easily into unresolved feelings about mistakes I made as a parent.  It was

a wild over-response to a minor problem, but I simply couldn’t control it.  I couldn’t have

felt worse.  I started doing some simple chores, keeping Slinkee in sight, because the move-

ment eased the psychic pain.


After an hour, I decided to go in for some lunch.  I counted the chickens again and realized

I was missing one.  I found kate’s body in another part of the grove.  Just before or after

Slinkee killed Justine, she had ripped kate’s guts out.


I felt even worse.  I staggered over to the bench of the arbour and sat down.  The surviving

chickens ran over to me and it seemed like they were rushing to comfort me.  Instead, they

started tugging on kate’s intestines like they were giant worms.


Man, nature can be such a bitch.


I rushed out of the garden with kate’s cadaver, her entrails trailing and the others chasing

them.  I choked down a turkey sandwich and some Sun Chips.  I tried to distract myself  by

watching some obscure Olympic sport.  That didn’t help, so I took Justine and kate down to

Lee’s.  He wasn’t home.  I was wary of leaving two dead birds on his doorstep, so I left him a

note that I’d have them at home in the freezer.


I busied myself with more chores through the rest of the afternoon.  The pain was almost

physical at times, like I imagine withdrawal might feel.  Jude got home about six.  I told

her the story with a catch in my throat and tears in my eyes.  Being my best friend, she un-

derstood and hugged me huge.


I took her to the freezer to show her the girls.  They weren’t there.  I was so upset I had left

them in the truck.  Since they had been out several hours, we decided to bury them.  Jude

dug a hole next to the coop as I cut two 4″x 4″ boards to place over them.  Then we put an

old cast iron bathtub on the boards.  The tub was going there anyway to catch rainwater

off the coop roof.


Jude’s comforting and the impromptu ceremony helped a lot.  We went in and she fixed us

a fine meal of salmon wraps.  Today I feel much better, but I’m still grieving the girls.  Here

they are:

Justine – named by Dan.  Not the most

gregarious.  Justine, that is.  She had

beautiful chest feathers that looked like

an elegant evening gown.





kate – named by kris.  She also had the

evening gown look, plus a diamond

necklace to accessorize.  Very friendly.

She had become our favourite.



Rest easy and safely, ladies.  I deeply regret letting you down.

  1. August 2, 2012 3:16 pm

    Awwwww…. It’s always hard to lose a pet. I’m so sorry.

    • August 3, 2012 7:12 am

      Thank you, Beanie. How’s the heat there?

  2. wkmtca permalink
    August 2, 2012 8:51 pm

    my s-i-l has chickens as pets. and we had one when i was a kid. a rooster that we eventually gave to the ‘egg lady’.. i guess you better watch your dog now because i think she will keep up going after the chickens. once they do something like that i think it becomes sort of ingrained. can’t blame them, they are dogs.. don’t feel bad.. you did the best you could. who’d of thought the dog would go all rambo on the chickens..

    • August 3, 2012 7:15 am

      You’re quite right. We’ll just have to accept that Slinkee is simply following her DNA pattern. Whenever she’s around them now, we put a muzzle on her.

  3. August 3, 2012 2:40 pm

    Oh Allen and Jude, I am so sorry to hear about Justine and Kate. When I had my surgery I had to leave my dogs behind in the care of my neighbor and Bandit, he was almost 12 went missing.
    It is true about keeping Slinkee away from the the rest of the chickens. I had an old old man once tell me when my dog started eating his chickens that once they have the taste for the blood and the kill, they will not stop. The man ended up giving up his chickens because my dog escaped at least once a week and headed straight to his house. I was becoming frustrated with the situation and told him I would get rid of the dog because he was beginning to get a little crazy and the man said no he was getting to old to keep the chickens anyway.
    Long story short, I wish that that I had done something with the dog because I was babysitting shortly after that and the dog with no warning attacked one of the children and he had to have lots and lots of stitches in his head and face.
    Now I don’t know about this part or not, but the little boy was riding his bike and fell and scratched his elbow and it was bleeding a little. So many told me that he had the taste for blood and I keep remembering what that old man said.
    I think that the muzzle is a good idea. (Hugs) to you both. I hope your feeling better now and know that you gave Kate and Justine a good life while they were with you.

    • August 5, 2012 12:32 pm

      Hi, Beth. Thanks for the hugs. We are readjusting to keep Slinkee and the chickens as separate as possible. Friday I let her run around unmuzzled while the girls were still safe in the coop. I was wearing ear protection to cut wood, so I couldn’t keep track of her. Then, when I came in for lunch, I let the girls out and brought Slinkee in. When I went out several hours later, I muzzled her. She hates it, but seems to get the point. Did you have to put the dog down after her bit the little boy?

  4. August 5, 2012 8:53 pm

    Good Job with Slinkee. Actually I had to call 911 and the police came and the dog knew that he had done something bad and refused to let me or the injured boy out the front door. I was 5 months pregnant, had a baby in my arms and another one that was bleeding everywhere. On the count of 3 I pushed the boy off the porch and jumped and as I did so the dog jumped after me into the air and the Chief shot the dog.
    He was sent to Austin for him to be tested for rabies. That came back negative but he had the beginnings of tick fever. It was frightening and very traumatic. They had to sedate me at the hospital because I was trying to go into labor,
    The boy recovered nicely and after a couple of surgeries he just had a faint scar. I am so thankful because it could have been much worse.

    • August 7, 2012 5:52 pm

      Good lord, Beth! What a story! I’ve seen movies with less drama.

  5. Robert Evans permalink
    August 6, 2012 8:06 am

    Sorry Allen…. Carol says what an offfal story

    • August 7, 2012 5:54 pm

      Thanks, Cap’n. We just have to learn that Slinkee never will.

  6. Gordon permalink
    August 6, 2012 12:46 pm

    Whoa! And here in the big city the most I have to worry about with our dog, Penney, is her determination to eat the cat’s dry catfood any time we’re not looking. Hope the rest of the girls didn’t get a glimpse of you eating the turkey sandwich, althought after they’re behavior, they likley wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Having come down from at least three generations of farmers, you’d think I’d be more immune but I perfectly understand the sadness. I suspect if I were raising cattle or pigs or chickens, I’d wind up naming them, getting to know them, and becoming a confirmed vegiatarian.

    • August 7, 2012 5:57 pm

      Once you name them, Gordie, it’s all over.


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