The Chook Massacre

I’ve been saving this story for a rainy day when the weather puts a stop to beach visits and sight seeing. That rainy day has arrived. I’m often requested to recall my ‘chook story”…..

I’ll set the scene: this happened some years ago, when as a family we were living on acreage property in Sydney. My girls were young teenagers and heavily involved with horses. To add to our menagerie of  two cats, two dogs and four horses, I decided to get in touch with my ‘earth mother’ side (pretty difficult for a Sagittarian I have to say), and add some chooks. What a nice experience it would be for us to collect fresh eggs each day.

But not just any old chooks. No, I wanted something special. I tracked down a breeder and carefully selected two big, beautiful black and white speckled Ancona’s, and eight  bantam chicks about a month old – all royal show quality.

As the chicks grew, we discovered that two were roosters who were constantly squabbling over the girls (typical male egos), so sadly had to find new homes for them before they fought to the death.

We enjoyed many months of collecting eggs and caring for these lovely girls.
I returned home from the school run one afternoon to an excited German Shepherd, eager to show me something. I followed him to see what he was so worked up about  and was led to the outside of the chook run.

There before me – lined up like prize trophies – were four of my bantams, all dead! How proud he was! How disgusted I was! Knowing how useless it would be to punish him after the event, I had to put my emotions aside for now.

For a few metres away, was one of my beautiful Ancona’s, staggering around like a drunken sailor. I raced over to pick her up, and discovered her back was full of puncture wounds – the size of a German Shepherd’s canine fang – and two gaping holes in her back the size of twenty cent pieces!

By this time our neighbour and her daughters had arrived to see what the commotion was about. As we both stood looking at Sabu’s handiwork, she stated -“she needs stitching”. I looked at her in disbelief. “There is no way I’m taking a chook to the vet!”, I answered.

“Well, you can’t just leave her like that, with all those puncture wounds”, she continued. We looked at each other, then down at the chook, then out to the horses in the paddock. “Okay” I declared, “I’d better get on with it then.”

We discussed which of the horses would be the best bet for a horse hair – Ben the black pony, Mickey the little grey and Shoni the miniature bay horse were discounted – their horse tail colours were the same as the chook, and would be too hard to see.
So Red, our dear little chestnut gelding was summoned over to us. While my neighbour bribed him with some hay, I set about pulling a few long tail hairs from his rear end. Into the house to soak them and a darning needle in a Betadine solution to sterilise, and I made myself comfortable on the lounge. I nursed Trudie (named after my grandmother – not because I remembered her as a cackling old chook, but because I was very fond of her), tucked her head under my arm and proceeded to darn her. Not a peep out of her, as I stitched her two gaping holes and a couple of smaller ones – my needlework was magnificent!

Somewhere during the course of this, my husband called. The neighbour’s eldest answered the call – “Hi, no, Jude can’t come to the phone right now. She’s kind of tied up for the moment” I heard her responding to him, barely suppressing her laughter.
“You don’t want to know” she answered to his question.
“You know how you’re always saying there’s never a dull moment in this house? Well, now is one of those never a dull moment’s” she laughed down the phone to him.
“Just wait till you get home, you’ll see what I mean” she ended the call with him.

I finished Trudie off with a Betadine wash, and wrapped her injuries in a clean white bandage, leaving her wings free so she wasn’t too restricted. With congratulations all round on a job well done, I placed her out in the corner of the miniature horse’s stable and booted the horse out to the paddock for the night. All set with water and pellets and some greens, she settled down happily for the night.

An early morning check found her as bright as a button – she’d eaten her food and was as chirpy as normal. Another Betadine wash and re-dressing with a clean bandage, and back into the stable to convalesce. I decided that she probably should have some antibiotics – those holes had got a bit flyblown before I stitched them, and she may end up with an infection. I had to pick up some items from the vet, so headed on down there.

After a bit of a wait in a crowded waiting room, it was my turn to be served. I ordered what I needed, then asked for an antibiotic injection.
“What sort of animal is it for?” the vet nurse asked.
I leant over the counter so as not to be heard – “it’s for a chook” I answered.
She made no effort to withold her laughter. “I’ve got to get the vet for this one”, she cackled as she headed out to retrieve him. He comes up to the counter and asks me why I need this injection.

By this time six pairs of ears have all pricked up to listen to the conversation. By the end of my explanation the whole surgery was in stitches. What was so funny? This was serious, I wanted to say to them. The vet disappeared and returned with a small syringe and needle. In answer to my obvious question, he proceeded to tell me where I should give this injection in my chook. (Either side of the breastbone, in the fleshy part – if you should ever find yourself in a similar situation!)

I tried to retain what was left of my dignity as I made my way through my now sniggering audience in the waiting room.

I returned home, repeated the Betadine bathing and new bandaging of Trudie and carefully gave her the injection where I had been instructed to. I stood up with her in my arms, she pooed the runniest green poo all down my white shirt and shorts – and dropped dead in my arms!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! It happened so suddenly! I deduced that the vet had probably felt sorry for this chook that had gone through all this trauma, and had replaced the antiobiotic with a lethal injection to put her out of her misery! It was one of those ‘unforgettable’ moments in my life.

Now, what to do about the German Shepherd? I decided that some sort of punishment was called for after the stressful events of the day before. I had read somewhere of a form of penance that is supposed to stop dogs repeating the offence.

So, I tied the departed Trudie’s legs together and hung her on a rope around his neck, and tied Sabu to the clothes line pole, where he was to stay for the afternoon. It did make for a very funny scene, with the chook hanging upside down with her wings spread across his chest.

Well I’m not sure of the success of this punishment method with other dogs.
My dog grew tired of this ordeal after a short time, and used Trudie as a pillow and went to sleep!

And that, readers, is my famous chook story!

PS – I do have photos locked away in storage somewhere. When I find them, I will upload them – very amusing. The caption will be “going, going, gone”!

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This guide also gives you details on caring for chickens – keep German Shepherds out of reach would be my number one tip!!! :

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