1 August 2008

Never bond with chickens

Late last year, junior brought home two chicks that had been incubated as a class experiment, and they grew into chickens in the backyard. They were extremely free-range, wandering the garden by day and sleeping in a tree by night. I started building a coop, but didn't persevere as they seemed content in the treetops and I am naturally poor at finishing things around the home that I start.

One of the chickens, an Ancona, was a capable flyer and displayed mind-boggling intelligence on several occasions, then crowned off the display of intelligence by escaping a few weeks ago never to be seen again. The other, a New Hampshire Red, stayed and, whilst not as bright, was nevertheless a friendly, almost affectionate bird with whom we have been bonding over the last several weeks.

But all that came to an end this morning when I found her brutally decapitated and distributed over the back lawn. Despite my creating sheltered accomodation for her in her tree, she still insisted on sheltering and laying at ground level, and something had found her there overnight and attacked her. Might have been a fox, but more likely a cat. A rather gruesome and depressing sight in itself, but also one that reminded me of the perils of bonding with animals. We're always told of the positive mental health outcomes of pets and animals, but like many people I create very strong attachments to creatures feline or feathered, and find myself inordinately affected by their loss and often guilt-ridden as a result of the things I might have done to prevent that loss.

Over many years of caring for pets, for one doesn't really 'own' them, I have had responsibility for couple of cats, a guinuea pig, a turtle, a rat, several fish and birds aplenty, including budgies, galahs, parakeets, African Grey parrots and a cockatiel. I remember each one fondly, but in each case was deeply impacted upon by their demise/loss/escape. Am I one of that plethora of people who bond with animals to avoid bonding with humans, or was Gandhi right when he said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"?


anna said...

yeah, i know how its like to lose a chicken (esp a baby chick). Although, it is very important that they have a coop, so they are protected from the foxes, cats, and in my case, hawks (>:(). As for the bonding, i raised a chicken the same way from school and saw her(wulfie) and her sister(ty) every other day. Now, whenever they see me coming home from school or walking outside they run to me, and wulfie, she likes to lay on my lap! so it would be nice to get another chicken bond with them and have a coop to keep your lil ones safe ^^

Anonymous said...

I had a chicken once.. She was amazing and I raised her from the day she was born. She thought I was her mom and I taught her how to be a "chicken". She copied me. It was so adorable... If I "Pecked" the ground she would come running to see what I found (which was usually either a treat or nummy insect) And if I whistled she'd come flying to me and ask to be picked up. She loved to be held and just be with me. It was amazing because before my opinion was that it was impossible to bond with a chicken because the only thing they bond with is another chicken, usually. Well, not this case. The story has a tragic ending though.. We needed to move her for the winter to a safer place and we moved her out to my grandmas farm. I disagreed with that choice, but it was my parent's choice and they didn't let me have a say. Within 2 weeks she was killed by an owl. It took me a while to get over it and honestly I still am not. I miss her so much. But I disagree and think it is worth it to bond with an animal. Any time is worth it, because the time spent makes you so happy. She helped me get over the loss of my cat. Even though it did create another hole in my heart, now I have yet another thing to look forward to seeing in heaven. Wherever you are Chicken, I LOVE YOU. <3 and i haven't forgotten you. Nobody has.