Practically overnight, life here on Critter Farm has gone from peacefully chaotic to, well...disturbed.
Poor Pip's in trouble:
It appears that a gang of chickens (mine) attacked him. Why? I have no idea. Everything had been going so well among the dozen of them. Even between the two roos, Pip and Roopert. The facts? Well, the chickens were all in their outside run and, as I went to let them free-range for a bit, I noticed a few hens with bloody beaks. Predominantly, it was Spongebob (below), the Buff Orpington, and Rose-Uppity, the Rhode Island Red:
Initially, I thought it was the hens who were hurt. But then Pip walked by. The picture below is actually after I washed a lot of the blood off, but this weird coagulated, congealed stuff that I couldn't wash off his feathers remained:
I'm in a quandary. I don't know how to keep Pip safe and I can't believe my hens actually went for him...
Jim helped me wash him off:
and administer first-aid. Dr. Naylor's Blu-Kote is my friend even if my hands are stained purple now. Poor Pip then spent the rest of the day and night sequestered in Roopert's crate:
He's still in there, as a matter of fact. I'm terrified of putting him back in with everybody.
And then the next bizarre event...Roopert. Just what WAS he thinking when he ATTACKED JIM FROM BEHIND yesterday?:
Jim had been trying to usher all poultry out of the berry patch when Roopert hung back and sneakily jumped him.
Roopert had actually done this twice to my son, Aidan, over the weekend, too, but we laughed it off, thinking it was Aidan's red metallic athletic shoes that were inciting him to fight. Guess not.
So, just what does this all mean for the roosters of our small farm? If Roopert is exhibiting aggressive tendencies toward others now, at 21 weeks old, what's he going to be like when he's all grown up? He's never been anything but sweet to me, but I can't have a pretty boy hanging around, randomly attacking visitors to the farm.
And Pip...even if Roopert were removed from the equation, would the girls continue to pick (literally) on him? I'm not sure who started the whole back-end abuse, but the girls seemed more than willing to keep at it. Will Pip ever be safe with my flock?
Adding insult to injury yesterday, I also seem to have devloped a manure management problem:
Perhaps it was the recent change in weather and the slight air inversion of late, but walking out onto my side porch yesterday, the unmistakable smell of "zoo" was in the air. While I do love all animals, this was a bit...rank.
And, sigh, my blueberries. I may have mentioned that I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 blueberry bushes scattered around my garden. Fourteen of them are in one section, the blueberry garden. It has come to my attention, over the last week, that someone is eating my berries who isn't ME. Or my family:
No leaves are disturbed, or munched, or eaten...just every single ripe, or almost ripe, berry is unmistakeably absent:
I have maybe 9 bushes now that have some berries still waiting to ripen, but the remainder ...every berry-bearing branch has been stripped bare.
So, into dusk last night, Jim and I were trying to hang deer netting across the bushes that still might provide us a few berries:
Today - Wednesday - has been spent (sort of feeling sorry for myself) mulling over yesterday's events and trying to figure out what to do on these many fronts. If anyone has any advice for me on any of the above, I'm ready.