Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Slaughter

Our first dog was obtained from the shelter. My friend Dennis calls him a "very Catholic choice" because my boys picked out a two year old dog who has a crippled leg. He is part hound and part ?? The crippled leg (due to bird shot embedded therein) does not slow him down any. On three legs he is a fast dog. He is a big dog - not huge, but a good size. His name is Challenger.

We also bought some day-old chicks a few weeks back. The first week we brought them into the house and kept them in the 2nd floor bathroom every night. (Apparently you are supposed to keep them at 90 F for the first week. We didn't quite manage that, but we didn't lose any either after the first two days.) We were very glad when that week was over. The aroma around the house is not quite the same as it was before.

Normally I get the boys up at 7:00 AM to take out our two pups and Challenger for a run. He usually starts barking at 6:55 for his attention. (Because he has tended to run off we have kept Challenger at night in a goat pen on the property - no goats as yet.)

However, one day a week I leave the house at 5:30 to go into the city to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with a group of men from my old parish. (I am sure I will post more on our men's group in the future). We then go to Mass and I run any errands I have in the city before returning home. Thus on this day, the dogs go out whenever the boys wake up.

Well, this past week when I returned from the city, I was met by a mourning family. My wife explained that she woke at 7:20 AM and did not hear the dog. So she got the boys up and they went out to run the dogs. But alas, Challenger was in the chicken coop. He had slaughtered approximately 30 chicks before they stopped him. He had dug a small hole under the fence and squeezed in. (We are still not sure how he fit through the hole he dug.) My family had put all the chick bodies in one bag - but had not buried them. They were shaken by this sudden exhibition of 'survival of the fittest'.

I got my shovel and dug a mass grave 4 feet deep and buried the chicks. (Apparently 4-feet is not enough because some animal dug them up a few days later.) The kids sang "Holy God we praise Thy Name" as I covered the grave.

With some 19 chicks left, I spent the next few hours heavily fortifying their coop with bricks, mortar, barbedwire, chainlink ground cover, impaling stakes, and otherprotective measures. My young (4) Thomas asked if I was going to shoot Challenger. I replied, "Not yet". (Possibly the bird shot in his leg was due to his fondness for chickens????)

I have learned a valuable lesson about dogs, chickens, finances, and chicken coop construction.

My children have learned something about the animal kingdom and the suddenness of death.

From the small holding in Bethune,

Oremus pro invicem! - Let us pray for each other.

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