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Maxine (c. January 2012 – August 31, 2012)

September 5, 2012

Last month was one of the busiest of my life — lots of socializing, outdoor projects, Olympic

volleyball viewing . . . even some adventures in traffic control.  It was a bad stretch for our

chickens.  Slinkee nailed two of them and we lost another to egg binding.


I was hoping that we could get out of August with no more fowl fatalities, but we lost Maxine

(named by the mysterious Anonymous) on the 31st.  Literally lost her.  I was putting the

girls away at dusk and saw Rosie trying frantically to get it through the closed front gate

of the garden.


I knew there was a weak spot in the usual barriers because of the refurbishing of the green-

house, but I though I had adequately blocked it.  Rosie and Maxine found it, because that’s

what chickens do.


So off they went.


I put Rosie back with the others and started searching for Maxine in the fading light.  She

was in none of the ladies’ favourite spots when they free range.  Jude and I figured that a

raptor or a raccoon got her.  We entertained the faint hope that she was lost and hiding in

the stand of Chinese knotweed near the house, and maybe she’d show up in the morning.


No such luck.  Monday Jude found her body in the back yard, just off a pathway along the

creek.  I dug a deep hole in the blueberry grove with the post hole digger.  She fit perfectly.

We will soon plant a new bush there in her honour.


Of the original six we bought last summer and the seven new ones this May, we’ve lost

eight — all but one due directly to my ignorance.  The biggest mistake was trying to

channel Slinkee’s fascination with the girls into a healthy herding habit.  We should

have gotten a clue when she brought three cooperative ones back to the coop, then

killed a resistant one.


She’s got four confirmed kills and is a suspect in a fifth.  Evidence is circumstantial and

she’s not talking.  The circle of feathers around the deceased didn’t fit her M.O., until

she disemboweled kate.  We now limit her contact with the girls to the minimum.


Saturday we’re buying five more hens.  We’ve been keeping the remaining five in one side

of the coop so the new ones can have the other side.  Things have not gone smoothly due

to ongoing tension between the three old girls and the two newer ones.  Brenda, Sally and

especially Hudi peck at Ethel and Rosie for no apparent reason.


The new ones will be identified by leg bands only.  They’ll be picked up and petted like the

others.  I firmly believe in equal treatment of our employees.  I don’t, however, think that

I’ll get as close to them as I have the others.


Although I’ll be doing my utmost to keep them safe, I won’t be reporting on them as much

as I have the first two groups.  I will inform you of the deaths of the five named ladies, which

I hope will not be for a long time.  ISA browns can live and be productive for eight years.

  1. September 8, 2012 2:10 pm

    I have a confession to make. When I see your beautiful chickens, sometimes it makes my mouth water. Maybe, without names, your chickens may one day complete a delicious recipe for the table. The would taste good–like chicken.

    • September 10, 2012 9:31 am

      Go and sin no more. I don’t see a day when we could slaughter one for our table, nameless or not. Our friend Lee’s table is likely the closest ours would appear, and that’s two miles away. I guess that’s the limit of our guilt.

  2. September 14, 2012 11:53 pm

    You have a way of being specific that is so interesting. So you would raise a chicken and then let Lee eat its corpse because Lee lives two miles away. That’s good, you are coming around. I’m kind of like Chinese culture, I appreciate all food items. We kill everything we eat. Even vegetables. Do you know the song by Arrogant Worms, Carrot Juice is Murder? I was just watching them sing it on youtube. Along with many other classic Canadian goofy songs, such as We are the Beaver.


    • September 15, 2012 8:54 am

      I realize I might just be parsing words, but I’m caught up in the swirl of the U.S. political campaigns. I suppose Lee could live even closer as long as we don’t see him preparing the meal. I like to think that we’re honouring a principle of permaculture to not let anything go to waste (other than compost). I’m not familiar with that song or the group, but I’ll seek it out. Thanks, Julie.

  3. September 18, 2012 8:06 am

    I keep track of a lot of politics too, some of it Canadian, some of it American and across the world. Like you, I’m pretty worried about who wins the American election. Seeing as we will likely always be the allies of the U.S., it would be good if the White House isn’t occupied by a complete twit. Not mentioning any names.
    Julie (concerned Canadian)

    • September 20, 2012 9:47 am

      We saw Thomas Friedman on PBS last night and he summed up the Romney campaign better than anyone else I’ve heard weigh in on it. He said Mitt wants the presidency so badly that he’s pretending to be someone he’s not, renting the Republican Party to achieve his goal. Conversely, the GOP hates Obama so much that they’re renting Romney to defeat him.

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