With new life in the spring air, death is on the agenda once again in the garden. We lost four of our hens the other day as a fox (or foxes) took three away and left one fatally injured. The wounded hen was hiding under a tree with her head jammed under some ivy, totally in shock. Josh and I only spotted her hours later. I put her in the hen house and let her out the next day. She had laid two eggs in the night (one a softy). I guess it was no surprise she died later that day – she had a massive bite mark in her back where the feathers had been ripped out.
So we are left with one rather bemused looking hen who continues to roost warily in the blue cedar each night, sitting as if on board the bow of a ship.
Elsewhere the canine assault on the rabbit population has resulted in more casualties. The Black Lab is showing a good turn of speed and a pretty effective killing technique. For a supposed “soft mouthed” retriever she thankfully dispatches baby rabbits swiftly. This was particularly useful the other morning when, after being let out early, both dogs bombed back in through the front door within thirty seconds – as normal – to get their breakfast. As Ella sped through the door and into the kitchen I noticed she had a toy in her mouth.
“But she has no toys in the garden” was my immediate thought, which segued to me shouting “hey!” at my startled dog, who spat the baby rabbit out by the fridge. I surveyed the poor creature for a moment or two to check it was dead. Which it was, thankfully. The thought of a rabbit loose in the kitchen being pursued by my over-excited dogs was not something I wanted to experience. We’ve only just put it back together after re-decorating – it does not need to be rearranged by two idiot dogs in pursuit of a petrified rabbit.
I was just gob-smacked (indeed I guess Ella was, literally) by how quickly she had run into the garden, collected the live rabbit in her mouth and returned for breakfast with said bunny. Being a Labrador she naturally suffers from CRS (Compulsive Retrieval Syndrome). But this was taking things a little far.
Later the same day Ella saw more success. She has developed a tactic similar to a sheep dog in which she pelts up the right side of the garden in an out-run before sweeping around the top of the middle border or coming down the centre of either that border or the Silver Wedding bed. I am not sure that the shrubs are going to survive the constant pounding but Ella did snare another rabbit, emerging out of the flower bed with broken Hosta leaves flying like anti-aircraft chaff, bunny in mouth.
She readjusted it a couple of times to complete the job, like a heron aligning the orientation of a fish before swallowing. Thankfully this did not occur, although I would not have been surprised to see her try to swallow it whole – with her gullet she eats first and vomits later, as I am all too aware. She dropped the corpse for me to dispose of effectively. Which I duly did – taking it to Jim for his ferrets (or hawks).
So fewer and fewer rabbits and hens. But probably less and less border shrubs.