1.22.2016

A Sad Lesson about the Circle of Life (and an Oliver + S Playtime Dress)

On Wednesday afternoon, the kids were playing in the backyard with our next door neighbors' kids.  They moved in last summer, they have four children, they also homeschool and it's been a match made in heaven.  Truly, we are so grateful.  They have been an enormous blessing to us!


They have a dog who is sweet and loving toward their kids, but is also a hunter.  It has alerted the parents to poisonous snakes in their yard by barking and leading them to the spot where the snake is.  Then she kills the snake.  She's really an incredible dog.


Well, on this particular day, the dog heard the kids playing in our backyard and got very excited.  Although it had never happened before, the dog somehow got out of their backyard.  Then it got into our backyard through a board that had been broken on our gate.  We were unaware that it was broken because we rarely use it.  The dog slipped through it and then she saw our chickens.


Tia and Iris were the first to spot her chasing the chickens. They immediately told Indigo who came running to save them.   Unfortunately, Indigo came just as the dog was attacking the chicken, right before her very eyes.


This was not just a chicken to Indigo, this was her beloved pet.  It would come to our back deck for snuggles and treats and Indigo adored her.  I never knew chickens could come running when called... but this one did.


At that point, there was loud wailing and sobbing amongst all of the kids. It looked as though a down pillow had exploded in our back yard.  But then Tia composed herself and started searching the yard to find the chickens.  She found one, Lulu, hiding out in a bush stunned, but completely unharmed.  She came running to us, giddy, giving us the thumbs up. 


Then she found our other chicken, Jupe, still alive but suffering terribly, paralyzed and badly mangled.

Tia says she wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up.  She asked for a doctor's kit for Christmas and plays with it often, as she cares for and bandages up her various stuffed animals.  I think this very well might be her calling.  She kept her cool nearly the entire time, while the other kids were hysterical.


Tia kept watch over Jupe until Dan could get home (he left work immediately) to put her out of her misery.  Dan grew up in West Africa, living part of the time in the bush, where if you wanted chicken for dinner you bought a live chicken and, well, you know where it goes from there.  So he knew what to do and it was all over quickly.  He thanked her for being such a good friend to the kids.


Indigo was absolutely crushed.  She has taken care of these birds in hot and cold weather, rain and shine, hand raising them since they were chicks.   I knew that there would be only one balm for this wound and that was new baby chicks.  I called around to the various feed stores and most would not be getting new chicks in until April.  But one feed mill had just received a shipment of day old chicks earlier that week!


 So we got two new chicks: one Barred Rock and one Cockoo Maran whom Indigo named Laura and Mary after the sisters from Little House on the Prairie - her favorite book series.


Since Indigo's other chicken turned out to be a rooster, we only have one grown chicken left - Lulu.  Lulu had this particular call she would do when separated from her other flock-mates.  When we let her out of her coop on Thursday morning, she kept calling for Jupe over and over again, pacing throughout our entire yard trying to find her.  When she realized she was gone, she hid under a bush all day.


Chickens are not meant to be kept alone since they are flock animals.  Lulu was already a nervous bird to begin with.  It would be at least six weeks before we could get the new chicks out to the coop since they need to be kept inside under a heat lamp.  Also, it's been cold here (30sF/around 0 C) and chickens cuddle in together at night, using each other's body heat to keep warm.  We decided it would be most fair to Lulu, if she could go to be be Henry/Heather (the rooster).  Luckily, that farmer said he would be glad to have her.  I think that was the best outcome we could hope for given the circumstances. 


So Henry/Heather and Lulu will be reunited again!  After we made that decision, we went to the feed store again and got one more chick - a Buff Orpington to replace Lulu.  She named her Carrie, keeping with the Little House on the Prairie theme.


She insisted on buying Carrie with her own money, so it would be truly hers.

Having the new chicks certainly does not remove the pain of losing a pet you held so dear, but it really does help.



Oh and yes, this dress.  I should probably say a little something about this dress, shouldn't I?  ;)


It's another O+S Playtime dress, with the buttons moved to the front again, using the same modifications as I used here.  Dan shellacked the wooden buttons for me to make them waterproof.  I added piping to the neckline and elastic to the sleeve hems.  The fabric is Handcrafted Jersey Knit in Cyprus.


Here's hoping that our weekend will be a lot less stressful than our week was.  And I hope your weekend is a relaxing one, too!

24 comments:

  1. Oh, what a story! Poor Indigo. I love that she named the new chicks Mary, Laura and Carrie. And hats off to Tia for tending the mangled bird - i am not sure I would have had the stomach for it! The dress is lovely - Playtime is my favorite O+S pattern!

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  2. Oh, so sad! My favourite chicken was a bit like yours, and I remember being very very sad when it died. I'll send some love to Indigo!

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  3. Oh gosh, I cannot believe this: today Jakob found one of our two chickens bitten to death too... We don't know what happened, she was just lying there this morning, claerly attacked by something. Isn't this the strangest coincidence?
    Poor children, they can be really devastated by something like this, can't they?
    And this green dress: I adore it!

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    1. Oh man! I am so sorry! That is terrible, and yes, a strange coincidence. I was reading last night that chickens cannot naturally survive in the wild - they have so many natural predators and they are so big they can't fly well. So sorry your son had to be the one to find yours. Indigo is still really struggling with the loss of her chicken. It's hard on their little hearts!

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  4. I am still so sad for Indigo. 😓

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    1. Thank you, Emily! She was still crying about it last night. She said, "Mom, chicks are cute, but the grown birds are so much fun!" She really misses her. :(

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  5. Oh wow, what a week you had! I'm so so sorry you all had to go through that. Even though it is part of life we still want to protect them from all the sad and scary stuff. Hugs to you all! And PS stunning dress!! And GO Tia....I can't believe she kept her cool, amazing!

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    1. Thank you, Mie! I was really impressed that she kept her cool, too!

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  6. I am so sorry for you all! Specially for Indigo!
    Tia looks so pretty in her new dress... And what a brave girl she is!

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    1. Thank you, Marta. I was really proud of her. Indigo is still sad about it, but doing better.

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  7. What a post filled with highs and lows! I am so sorry for Indigo. What a hard lesson at a young age. I love the new names so much. Tia and Indigo have such big hearts. The dress is beautiful! The color is stunning on Tia.

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  8. Oh what a heartbreaking experience for your kids 😞 I had a chook as a pet when I was little. It was a brownish-reddish chicken we named Dasha. She would come when we called for her also. We used to take her for walks to a park in a pram. She lived under the sink in the kitchen in our flat in Moscow. I loved her to bits. I hope your children, especially Indigo, will enjoy their new chickens. The dress is fabulous of course. The colour is perfect for Tia the vet to be 😊

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  9. How traumatic for the kids, and poor chickens :( I'm so glad that you have written very understandingly about the dog. It's very unfortunate but there are some instincts they really cannot help! Our greyhound sadly killed one of my parents' chickens about two weeks ago, when we were at their house and it flew over its fence. Of course we were very cross with the dog but it's just in her blood to chase. Keeping chickens has been quite an education in life (and death) for our kids and I'm sure it will be for yours! Fingers crossed all your new chicks are girls :)

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  10. Oh Tia and Indigo and their giant hearts!! So sad. I'm so glad you were able to find a good home for Lulu and you could find new little chicks too. I'm so proud of Tia and how she kept her cool - Em wants to be a vet when she grows up too and she is great at keeping her cool during an emergency too! You can't teach that sort of thing I don't think. Hope Indigo feels better soon too.

    Anyway, the dress colors are gorgeous and look so lovely on Tia! Beautiful sewing.

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  11. This is just such a tender story. Breaks my heart that the kids had to witness the carnage, and that Indigo especially had to see her precious pets treated in such a way. Glad that some baby chicks have been found but wow - what a lesson about the nature of animals! And sound like Miss Tia is on her way to finding a wonderful career path:)

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    1. Yeah, it was really, really sad. Indigo has cried about it every night. But during the day she is doing well. I actually think Tia would make a great vet! She really is a calm girl. It will be interesting to wait and see!

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  12. Oh, what a heartbreaking story. I'm always worried a hawk or raccoon will attack when we have our chickens out. But the new chicks, and the dress, are adorable!

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  13. I am so sorry, we have had our share of losses too.
    What a brave girl, all of them actually. Well handled.
    xx N

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  14. I have to ask about the art work on the wall...I love it! Where did you find it???

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    1. I believe we just found those at Rooms To Go.

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  15. Somehow I missed this when you first posted (things get lost in my feeds sometimes!), but it came up just now when I did a search for Playtime dresses to get inspiration for a dress for Maggie. What a sad story! I agree with Jane, dogs can't help it, and when you think about it, chickens have been domesticated to be docile, mild, fat, incapable of getting away, and generally delicious. Everyone, including raccoons, dogs, foxes, and people, find them so. It seems to me to be the hardest part about having chickens - the inevitability that someday there will be an attack. :( So sorry for this loss, but I am loving watching the little chicks grow up on IG. Tia's dress is, of course, totally gorgeous!

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  16. LOVE this dress! So sorry about the chicken fiasco...it is so hard as a child to lose an animal (not that it gets any easier as an adult). I grew up with dogs, cats, hamsters,a pony and horse and my neighbors had a goat and chickens. Glad that your daughter has found solace with her new chick.

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