Posted by: kathandroger | April 22, 2018

Massacre of the Flock.

I used to keep chickens and ducks in England. Despite all the normal precautions it was quite common for the fox or mink to get in and kill them. I had become accustomed to finding dead poultry about once a year; a reflection of the density of the fox population in the UK. But we have been in France for nearly nine years now, see the fox rarely, and have only lost one chicken, to the badger, a couple of years ago. Our little flock of five layers and the loud cockerel, Decker, gave us much pleasure. As always with having free range birds they would damage the flower beds and poo on the pathways, but it was a price we accepted for enjoying them in the garden. They were a mix of varieties and ages and characters, and were a real bonus in our lives.
We have just been for four days to Yorkshire with Kaths’ French students. I was a little worried because we had not closed our shutters as I feel it is just an indication that we are away and an invitation to burglary. It does, however, invalidate the house insurance, so I was glad to find everything was in order. We were, however, a little surprised not to hear our raucous cockerel, and the clucking of the chickens was absent. After making sure our own house was intact, I could see some evidence of disaster by the chicken house.IMG_3952
Even Polly, who has been taught not to interfere with the flock, seemed concerned by the large pile of feathers. A look inside the house showed the huge hole in the floor and the result of the mayhem that resulted.IMG_3953
All our chickens had been taken. No corpses were left behind, which usually happens when the fox visits, and there were relatively few feathers for the number of birds taken. A faint trail of feathers could be followed however, to where the badger has been burrowing under the heavy iron gate at the back of my workshop. He had not been in for several weeks, but a new digging effort could clearly be seen. When I checked his home in the wood, there was again not much evidence at the first couple of entrances, but at the last the case was proven.IMG_3956
Poor Decker, now a cockerel corpse, could be seen outside the Mr Badgers’ hole. His developing spurs and his still intact form were obvious, but he had been completely eaten.IMG_3957
I have seen Brock in the woods, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is not a fox hole, so we have a multiple murdering badger nearby. I guess there is a family, probably with some new young to feed, and that the chickens were taken one at a time over the days we were away. Each must have been dragged the 200 or so metres, under the gate and a fence, back to be eaten underground.
So what to do now. Kath was devastated to have lost our flock, but having had the same problem in the past I am a bit more relaxed. Animals need to eat, and I can’t blame the clever animal for thwarting our defences. But I am going to buy some more in a couple of weeks, and will have to make sure that Brock can’t get in. I will put some concrete and metal piles under the gate, and rebuild the house with some metal reinforcement. Then perhaps some early warning system and employ a battery of armed guards!
Never mind, look on the bright side. Next to the chicken house is one of our apple trees.IMG_3954
The blossom has never been this good. I hope badgers eat apples, but not after a chicken first course.


Responses

  1. Really sorry to read about your chickens being taken, and I can understand the distress that this causes. Although it is a deliberate misunderstanding of Tennyson, a quotation from his poem “nature red in tooth and claw” seems especially apt…

    • Thank you Gaynor, We are planning to buy another flock next week at les Herroles. That is after the repairs to the hen house have been completed! All the best, Roger.


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