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Two birds, no stones

May 17, 2012

Sad day today.

Everything was going OK until about half past three, in fact, but it got much worse from there on in. I went out to check on the chickens and found one of them dead in the run. My favourite, sweet-natured little Honey. She had apparently just keeled over where she stood at some point during the day. No sign of fowl play. Ha ha.

I called in Miss Fly, who was upset (it was her favourite chicken, too) and wanted to see the body and then immediately went back out to play. Ooh, squirrels!

Meanwhile, I steeled myself for dead chicken disposal. I couldn’t bring myself to touch it – a cold, dead body that might have any manner of horrible things going on inside or underneath it. There was a bin-bag, a stick, and a wheelie bin. A dead chicken is remarkably heavy, and ungainly, and there are legs and wings to deal with. Not very dignified – oh, dear, no – but that was as much courage and stomach as I had for the job, and I consoled myself with the thought that it probably doesn’t matter, once you’re dead.

Fast forward a couple of hours.

I have regained my composure, cleaned the kitchen and made home-made pizza (I love waiting for the dough to rise) which was in the oven. I’d sent Miss Fly upstairs, out of my sight and out of the way of my fury following an outrageous prank involving a pipe, much cold water, and my unsuspecting ear. My nose started bleeding, for no particular reason that I could tell (except it often does when it’s just about that time of the month, which it nearly is).

So I got a tissue and happened, about then, to glance into the garden – where I saw a giant hell hound (it later turned out to be next door’s spaniel) savaging a chicken.

Of course I ran out yelling, but it was too late. The neighbour’s dog – which had never before shown any interest in digging or fences or chickens – had dug a massive, massive hole and got under the fence. I shouted at it, but it didn’t seem able to get back under the fence, so I had to grab its collar and get it out through the gate instead.

Poor Paxo was still twitching. I wasn’t sure if she was dead, and as I was battling to get the dog out of the garden while I still had two chickens left, simultaneously shoving the wad of tissue up my nose so that I could use both hands – I was in my mind facing the very real and horrifying prospect of somehow having to put her out of her misery.

In the circumstances I was almost relieved to find her properly dead by the time the dog had gone.

I checked on the other two chickens who had sensibly retreated to the corner by the compost bins and then – shaken and, frankly, sobbing – went inside to try and sort out the nosebleed and screw up my courage for dealing with my second corpse of the day. I am not good with dead things, or bloody things.

Miss Fly, hearing all the commotion and thinking it was the aftermath of her prank, started shouting down the stairs that she was sorry, sorry, SORRY and I had to go up and break the news to her. She was heartbroken and we both had a good noisy cry. Cheeky, friendly Paxo – our second favourite after Honey. My nose finally stopped bleeding. There was a knock at the door and it was my neighbour, explaining, apologising, offering recompense, assuring us that even as we spoke her husband was busy repairing the fence so the dog could never get under it ever again. I think the sight of us both, weeping and bloody, was punishment enough.

We remembered the pizzas and rescued them from the oven. They weren’t burned – that was how quickly it had all happened – but neither of us could eat. We eventually took them upstairs and ate them cold, hiding from the carnage.

I managed in the end, to summon the stomach for dealing with the poor, dead Paxo. I picked her up by the legs, which was no more dignified than Honey’s ending, but quicker at least.There are bits of intestine still on the lawn. I am hoping something will eat them in the night.

I suppose it was a fitting end to the day that, when I finally finished the coral jigsaw (you can do jigsaws, when the tables are clear) that we’d been working on for days, there was a piece missing.

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