Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Very Hard Day

It started out very well....

I swept the porch and deck, and cut the dead blooms off all the deck flowers.  These self-seeded this year, aren't they nice?

After that, I moved out to the garden to try to clear up some debris and do some watering before it got really hot.   (It's 96 right now at 4:47 PM)

I heard the chickens screaming... and after a while, I went over, and could see one hen making a racket, and told her... "Settle down".  I went back over to the garden, sat down, and kept working on plants, deadheading and pruning. 

The chickens screamed again, and it went on for a while.  I didn't get up again.

At noon, I talked to the lady who was going to do the testing, to make sure she still wanted to come in the heat.  When she said yes, I thought I had better go to the bank so I could pay her cash.

As I drove out of the drive, I saw smoke on the horizon.   I rounded the corner onto 24/40 Highway, and saw smoke from the pasture across from us.  I should explain that our road runs north and south, but does not connect across the highway.  Across from our corner is a 140 acre pasture that has been for sale since we moved here.  The owner is in California.  She is also the owner of the buffalo herd that has been abandoned on ten acres around her father's former home.  There are 12 bison in this herd, that is just left to live or die on it's own. 

As I drove to the right, I saw a line of flames marching across the pasture, towards the house and barn where the herd lives.  I saw a white pickup truck in the pasture, and thought "Should I call 911 or not?", because I thought... if someone is sitting there, they are monitoring it, but when I looked over my shoulder, it frightened me because it was burning so hard.  I went to the bank... and then the grocery store, and then came home.  As I approached, I saw this:

I was still miles away.

When I got closer, I saw all of our township fire equipment, the highway patrol, and a sheriff's deputy out along the highway....

It had burned all the way to the eastern fence line, where there is a neighboring house, and clear out to the roadway in several places.  I should have called, I kicked myself.  I called my husband who was out of town at a meeting, but on his way back.

Pretty soon he returned my call to tell me that our county emergency manager had just called him to warn him to warn ME that there was a fire coming my way.  I kept seeing Feral Woman's blog in my mind, and was alarmed at the way it was burning when I saw it.

When Keith got home, he told me that the sheriff would send someone to talk to me, as they suspect arson.  I saw a white pickup truck in the pasture, BELOW the fire line.

So after all this, I got home and started to do water, as it was 95 degrees and the tester was on her way.

This is what I found in the little henyard.

I could just scream.  This is what was happening when I heard everyone screaming this morning.

It was a pullet, one of my two porcelain D'uccle pullets.

Broad daylight, 10 AM.

I thought possum... but I showed it to someone whose opinion I value, and she said "Owl". 
Remember, we have seen a huge owl next door in Troy's yard.
We have noticed a dearth of muskrats lately... and many less mice.

I removed the other porcelain pullet, she is not happy, but she is in the big henhouse and there she is staying until everyone moves over to the new henyard.

All the chickens were in the big henhouse... everyone from that yard... and the turkeys were hiding under trees behind the 4 x 4 pen.

I might have been able to stop it, if I had just gone the whole way out there.

So, the tester and her daughter got there.

Uh... Diane and Caitie caught most of the cockerels, I admit it.  They are just too fast for me now.

Each bird's wing was nicked and the blood put into a titrate.  It turns cottage cheesey if there is pullorum or typhoid in the speciman.  Mine did not.

So, I am worried now about tomorrow.  I am going to put the game cam on the little henyard, and bring the Naughty Girls into the big henhouse for a few days.  They won't like it, but they'll live.

It is supposed to be blazing hot.  I have an appointment to take Ranger in for another look-see in the morning, and then a test at the post in the afternoon, which I think I'll call and change to next week.  I'd like to stay close to home and see what's happening.  Keith said he is not surprised... the wildings are getting desperate, there is a dearth of little animals around, and really.. the water situation is getting scary.

PS... at 8:28...

It was the big gray barred owl, it came back at about 7 PM... I've never ever heard a turkey scream like Annabelle did, and chickens went EVERYWHERE to shelter.  I scared the owl away, and it flew off into the cottonwoods on Troy's dam.  I sat out there for over an hour, watering the garden, watching the henyards.  The turkeys do NOT want to go back into the little henyard tonight, where they usually roost.  I am waiting for Keith to get here to help me get them into the henhouse itself, they have never roosted in there, though they have all gone in at different times.

It's dark, so this should be good.  I'm afraid to leave them where the owl can get to them tonight.

I'll let everyone know what happens.


  1. Oh dear; this was all so hard to read. I know how you feel; I've kicked myself for woulda-shoulda-coulda's, too. But that is in the past; forgive yourself, learn and live.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this difficult day. I can't imagine what someone could be thinking to start a fire in this drought. I know it's got to be hard on all the wild animals. I wish I had a way to provide them with water out in my back forty, but there just isn't any way. I do hope everyone stays safe tonight and tomorrow is a better day.

  3. Oh I am so sorry all this has happened, and keeps happening to you.
    Its just so much- you must be just trembling.

    I am sending good thoughts that things get better..

  4. Oh my gosh, that's just too much for one day, isn't it? I'm sorry all this happened. Hope things get better and that the owl doesn't come back. Poor birds!

  5. Oh Mary Ann..
    what an awful day for you!
    I'm so sorry!!

    I hope that today is a better day.

    Sending you a big ol' hug...

  6. I will never understand why people do the things they do. First off, why have a herd of bison and then not care for them? If you don't have the time, find them a new home. And arsonists. Hopefully they catch the guy that did it. I hate to ask....were the bison OK?

  7. I'm sorry Mary Ann. It sounds like an awful day...I hope you were able to get all the birds into the hen house last night without too much trouble. Hoping today is much better!!

  8. Maybe one of the rescue agencies will pick up the bison. I know we have some here in MS that do that kind of thing.

    Poor chicken. I'll be glad when everyone is moved and under cover.

  9. What a day! Whoa. First of all yes, I cannot believe she abandoned the Bison, and no one has come in to get them - since they have no food or anything? That's horrible. Why doesn't she just sell them? I'm sorry about the chicken too, hate when that happens. I've done that too, heard an alarm call and not noticed what exactly it was for. I sure hope you don't loose any more. And yikes about the fire! always scary.

  10. You could try sending an e-mail to a few of the bison protection groups. There are several of them and I would think that they would have contacts interested in the herd. But start by letting local law enforcement or animal control know that they are abandoned. Hopefully they can be re-homed before winter and you have to watch them starve.

  11. My goodness! I truly hope you have a better day after such a nightmare of a day.

  12. I have never seen an owl fly during daylight, at least not until dusk, they usually do all their hunting and feeding at night. I would have called 911 unless I already knew someone had called. Several times I have called and they have already had it, but better safe than sorry.


I love comments!