chickens and dogs and trailers, oh my.

crossposted from

This has been a wild weekend. Pluto is at station (exact today), in the process of turning retrograde, and I for one will be glad when it gets on its way again, whichever direction it wants to move in. Pluto is the planet of intensity, transformative processes, death & rebirth, and there has been plenty of that in our world the last few days.

Saturday, Jaime and I went hiking up to San Antonio Hot Springs. it was a fabulous hike, and we had a good long soak at the springs through the afternoon. We got back to town to get the message from Alan that he had come home from running errands on Saturday to discover that someone stole our trailer. Our 16′ dual-axle independent suspension utility trailer. Which was cabled and locked to the cottonwood tree. Someone had cut the lock. He filed the police report and insurance claim. I am hoping the perpetrator was too stupid to remove the license plate (we had registered the trailer) and will therefore be caught.

now we are looking at installing real gates, like this. or maybe this.

Okay, that’s probably a bit outside our means, but you get the idea. real metal gates that LOCK. with solar powered electronic access systems. and we’re going to build a wall (earthbag, adobe or strawbale, it is not yet decided; there are merits to all three methods) along the whole Isleta Boulevard face of the property, and around the corner on the north side as far as the cottonwood tree, or even up to the compost. i like that idea quite a lot; i’d like to screen the yurts from public view. out of sight, out of mind. and it would help with dogs crossing the property and eating our chickens, too.

speaking of which, that was sunday’s major adventure. after round two of stove installation stalled out at more parts not fitting together (but hey, all the interior parts are installed now!), Alan and I went for dinner with our guests Mary and Keith and our intern, Sarah. We left the chickens browsing in the barnyard, under Thistle’s supervision. We had a lovely dinner, and came home in the sunset. We headed outside to do evening chores, and as i started on the greenhouse, Sarah shouted for me from the barnyard. I dropped what I was doing and ran over there, to see what she had seen: three birds dead, explosions of white feathers covering the ground. I shouted for the others and went to the birds. Two were definitely dead—the third, a barred rock, was alive. I knew immediately that I would need to kill her—she was wounded on the back and her spine was exposed, she lay on her side panting heavily, her heart working hard to keep her alive. She would not make it through the night, and her every breath was clearly agony. Keith came over to her with me and held her, and came to the same conclusion. I went in and got the slaughtering knives. Alan held the bird for me while I slit her throat. Her dying reflexes shook blood all over both of us. it seemed fitting, in that moment. Alan set her body near the other two, and we set about seeing to the living. It was the right thing to do, and absolutely the hardest part of that long night.

There were five birds dead, all told, and two more injured. i think those two are going to recover. we were able, over the course of the next couple hours, to uncover several live birds who had hidden under the shed and under the wood pile, and get them back into the coop. While looking for more survivors, Rev found the culprit—a short-haired orangish dog, a mutt with a long muzzle and a bad attitude. what Victoria calls a “south valley ditch dingo.” We believe this dog is the one that killed Penny and Ora in their chicken tractor last week, too.

As soon as they saw it, Rev and Alan went after the dog. the dog evaded, demonstrated himself to be fast and vicious, biting & snarling, and got out the hole he had made in the truck gate. the men took the other gate and ran after him, following him across some of Gherardi’s property before they lost sight of him. There they learned from Manuel that this same dog had killed some of Manuel’s chickens last week, too. Meanwhile, Keith and Mary did reiki on the injured birds, calming them, while we looked under stacked wood and suchlike for more survivors. Chickens respond surprisingly well to treatments like reiki. They are most likely to die of shock, so if they can be calmed and gentled soon after a shock, they are much more likely to survive. I got yunan bai yao (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory herbal powder) onto the wounds of the two injured hens, and set them up with food and water in the infirmary hutches. When Rev and Alan came back, Rev and Sarah mended the gate where the dog had gotten in. We finished feeding the rest of the animals. Alan took the carcasses of the four unmutilated dead birds inside to pluck and butcher. We were working in the barnyard for hours, and then went inside to work on the butchering. Alan called Jenny, and she and Tristan came home to help. Three of the birds were salvageable as meat; one was so badly bruised that after plucking and discovering the extent of her bruises, we put her in the compost. the current plan is to use her remains as bait to trap the dog in a trap that Animal Control is going to drop off this afternoon. That dog has repeatedly returned to our compost pile, so we think if we set the trap by the compost, we can capture it and turn it over to Animal Control for euthanesia. that damn thing is a danger to the entire neighborhood.

long night. long weekend. i’m ready for the universe to turn the intensity volume down now.

Bright points: new friends Keith and Mary, who will be coming back to visit again this summer. Our intern Sarah, who is doing a fantastic job and proving to be super-reliable and thoughtful. a whole lot of love, given & received. good family. a room of my own. good books to read. art to make. Beltane to look forward to. the slow unwinding of summer to anticipate. peas coming up in the garden.

and agave blossoms, drying by my door.