Thursday, 26 May 2011

Fly strike, & I'm done with the electric fencing!

Electric fencing is good. Plastic poles, laced up with electric wire,  give a sharp warning that to venture to the 'no-go' area beyond the wire is not a good idea.

This has worked a treat for the last seven months. Now it doesn't. For some reason the sheep, particularly the six month old lambs, have taken it into their heads to go adventuring. At first they did it discretely but then they became bold. On the day before the shearing they must have bust out big time only I didn't realise this until the evening when one of the sheep became tangled in a mangled mass of wire.

So I spent two hours sorting out the tangle. Fence intact, sheep let out, sheep went through, more tangle. Two more hours sorting it all out. Repeat of the same. Meanwhile Hubs was sympathetic, enthused as he was with getting the proper fencing sorted out though, this task was still being kept on the to-do-when-we-have-time-and-money list.

Until the night of the choir. Out I went, to return several hours later to find a very upset Hubs:
"I want a word with you...." he said.
"So what have I done now?"
"The sheep got out again."
"But I fixed that fence again lunch time."
"Well not good enough, because they got out". The drama of his voice suggested a big time stampede with the flock heading out down the lane. "Two were eating the grass by the pig pen, and two were just about to eat my fruit trees" Ah, the fruit trees! Those much hallowed and looked after trees. Those pride and joy trees. Those trees watered tirelessly throughout the last two summers. Those trees which are patrolled every day by himself. Those trees.

So I am done with electric fencing. The sheep are now grazing the Side Field across the lane, which they shouldn't be because the grass is still to short, the lack of rain having delayed its recovery from last year. It also has no shelter since the farmer in the next field has finally killed off one of the shade trees with his pharmaceutical spraying, which means the sheep are looking a little sunburnt now they are minus their woollen coats, which at this moment residing in a heap in the Tall Barn. 

Meanwhile, we are fencing the Front Field. The poles have already been put in by a local farmer, all we have to do is get the wire up.

Which means: cutting the vegetation in between the posts first, a task which has fallen on my shoulders. We have two strimmers. Neither work. But we do have hand shears. They are blunt. It is a long way along those fence lines. But I remain driven on by the thought of not having to move those damn poles again! 

A bit of a sadness: One of our main egglaying hens has suffered a very unfortunate demise. As Hubs and I were sat outside the other evening, prepping ourselves for the evening feed, we noticed our bare-neck hen had something stuck to her rear. Looked like a red lump. Looked like her insides. She had laid an egg that morning. Perhaps she had tried too hard and evacuated her insides as well? Must be painful. Very regretfully will have to be help her into chicken-heaven. Have a cup of tea first. Inside we went. Ten minutes later... loud going's on amongst the chicken fraternity we heard. Outside we hurried. The bareneck was being chased by the others. A short string of entrail was hanging from her rear upon which the others were wanting to feast. We intervened. The hen was sheltering beneath the caravan. Hubs prodded her to one side of it. I picked her up. Gave her a hug. She was a good hen. She was one of our first hens. I could not let her suffer. Over to Hubs I gave her. Within seconds she was quiet. No more. Pain free.

Fly strike. That is what had happened. Hubs saw this as he started to pluck her. We would have buried her, but Whitey, our previous cockerel, had been interred beneath the oak tree upon his demise only to have been dug up again recently by something or other, and presumably eaten. So our intent was to keep her in our food chain, hence her being plucked.  Only no. She was put into the woods to be put into the food chains of the 'something or others'.

So what had happened? Well the hen had become a haven for the lava of the fly. In her rear end. Her feathers had covered up this catastrophe for her, meanwhile she was being munched upon until such time as the munch-area became so enlarged that her insides started falling out.

It took a while to get to sleep that night. We put distance between the event and bed time, but yet my mind remained imprinted with the event. But most of all my heart went out to that hen, who kept on laying eggs despite the other activity happening to her body. She kept on going on and her efforts at doing I shall never forget.


John Going Gently said...

I have never seen fly strike in hens.
sorry its always sad to loose one.....
i dont bury my lost girls
I just drop them off infront of a local badger set....reclycling!!!

Horst in Edmonton said...

Sorry to hear about your poor hen. These things happen. Your sheep are getting to smart. Hope you can keep them penned in the field.

Ken Devine said...

That is so sad. I really felt for her having to go through all that pain.
I'm really looking forward to the time that you write about all the machinery working magnificently and everything else is sharp and ready.

What on earth will you do when you have loads of money in the bank and nothing to spend it on?

Okay, so I know it isn't likely to happen...when does it ever?

I love reading about your unpretentious ups and downs...even your disagreements and groans. You always end up with a positive.

Thanks for sharing, Vera.

Vera said...

John: I did a search on the Internet because I was shocked that this should happen. I have kept a close eye on the sheep and rabbits, but never considered the chickens. But chickens can get attacked as well, according to the Internet community. Good idea about the recycling. Nice to know that nothing is wasted!

Horst: We have given up with electric fencing, and the sheep are currently in a properly fenced field while we sort out the fencing on the other field. Animals have an intelligence which we do not give them credit for!

Ken: Thankyou for your words. It is nice to be encouraged! And while we may not be rich in money we are very rich in lifestyle,life energy and contentment. Well, most of the time that is! Sometimes we take a dip downwards but not often!

Duta said...

I regard both animals and plants as having a life and a soul, especially those under our immediate care.

I can well imagine the sadness of you and your hubby regarding the hen, but "Tomorrow is another day" as they say in the movie.

Unknown said...

I am now educated on fly strike. I lost a hen from prolapse not too long ago. I am so sorry you and your hubs are going through so much all at once it seems. So sorry you lost your hen. Thinking of you my friend.

Diane said...

Farm life can be very hard at times but just keep thinking of the good times :-) it really has more good than bad, well most of the time. Diane

Vera said...

Duta: Yes indeed, life has to go on, and the accumulated wisdom one gathers as it does so is priceless!

Nancy: I guess the fact that we are sympathetic to our hens rather than regarding them as articles of usefulness means that we are kind people!

Hi Diane: You are right about thinking only of the good times and disregarding the not-so-good. That phylosophy keeps us going here....