Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

“The Fox”

October 26, 2012

Young Red Fox,

This happened last week, and brought forth the poem. The event made me think deeply where we stand with the other species who share the world.

Lady Nyo

Yanked from sleep
By a scream
Wrapping around the belly,
Fueled by some instinct,
Long buried thread of ancestors.
Bolting upright
Knowing without knowing
A terrible slaughter was tearing
The soft night apart.

I had heard that sound before.

Coming fully awake,
heart pounding through my chest
I listened again, and there!
The vocals of a hen attacked
By something stealing through
The soft night, waiting beyond
The edge of sleep.

Three dogs have I
City dogs, though with
The blood of once-fierce hounds.
Not one of them would
Run out to do battle.
Grabbing the collar of the
Biggest, he turned and bit me-
He was no fool.
There was danger
In that dark night-
He was doing his best
To avoid it.

Stupid hounds!
I’ll face the monsters
Out there myself!
Flipping on the porch light
I saw the dark flight of something
Fly across my yard and vision,
Take a sharp left and disappear
Into the night where porch light met
A dismal darkness.

Running to the chicken coop,
Found a young hen, a pile of feathers
Mounded around her, still alive
Clucking mournfully.
How do you comfort a tail- less hen
At dawn, with a crescent moon
Throwing feeble light upon the ground of slaughter?

I’ve raised hens for enough years
To know they are merciless to the injured.
But the events of the night
Had stunned their own instincts
And she burrowed amongst them,
They crowding around, covering with feathers and warmth,
Rocked out of their slumber
Clucking out warnings to further attackers:
Let the night and its beasts hear their rage!

In the morning I asked my neighbor
Once a south-Georgia farm boy what to do.
His answer was bloodier than
The attack of this young fox,
For young he must be,
Not to kill his prey on first strike.

“Spread poison in the kudzu,
Here, I’ll lend you a shotgun-
Fox be vermin and bred for no good.”

There is something mystical
In a fox who dares to live in a city.
Or desperate.
Birthed in the kudzu growing
From the leveling of a small forest
Sheltered in one-foot wide drainpipes,
Feeding on rats and rabbits
With a taste for chicken from time to time.

I’ll lock up my chickens
Let a dog prowl the fence,
And leave off the
Modern methods of slaughter.

There must be a balance in nature
As it struggles to right itself
To bypass concrete and destruction
Of habitat by mankind.
There will be a balance
And I will stand with the foxes
Oh, it is a marvel and a mystery!
For every species is the center of its universe,
If only for him.

We are connected by a fine thread to all else,
Our survival depends upon this,
Yet our eyes are blinded to the truth
And something in the proclamation
Of “Inheriting the Earth”
Lies and trips us up,
And we are no more shepherds
Of these species than wolves
In human skin.

The world is what it is,
With its own rules of hunger, survival,
We just a cog in this great Mandala,
And most of us attempt to bypass
These laws of nature, still clothed with
Dead dreams of conquerors.

And some of us know this deep in our bones.

We are blind to the beauty of life
That we are not alone.
The tragedy would be if we were,
And we deny our connection to what we now proclaim “vermin”,
Believing for some bad reason this makes us more human.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012

Lords of the Winter Sky

January 31, 2010

Painting of a young Red Tailed Hawk, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003

I’ve watched two Red Tailed Hawks fly from tree to tree this morning, right over my chicken yard.

It would seem this would be a disaster- in- the- making for the chickens, but as huge as these birds are, they can’t lift a chicken.  They hunt by other manuvers.

This last summer we caught a young (he was so stupid) RT who landed in our chicken yard and then didn’t know what to do.  Our dogs cornered him and our son rescued the bird and put him in the cat house (minus cats…) for a couple of hours to see what was broken or insulted.  The bird was fine, and we let him go after a few hours.    He was a dark shadow soaring above the now-darkening mass of kudzu and a haunting specter had we not just held him in our arms.

The mature birds, and these two this morning were….will fly down from the 120 foot Live Oaks and settle down quietly.  The hens know, and seem to have a plan ready.  They cluster and get silent, and any straggler hen is the one that gets jumped upon.

Red Tails are big and rather clumsy birds.  They have a wind span to 6 feet and weight about 3 lbs.  That’s not a lot of weight. I’ve had chickens that were easily 4 lbs.

So a Red Tail can’t swoop down and kill a chicken like a falcon.  She has to kill from the ground.  I saw one Hawk fly on the ground onto a hen’s back and try to kill her.  I chased her off, but the hen just sat there, not moving.  I thought perhaps she was in shock, but uninjured.  The next day she was dead….still sitting there.  I think perhaps, deep in the memory folds of animals are their knowledge something of the food chain.

They know their place.  We should learn.

The Hawks this morning were a beautiful sight.  They flitted, if flitted isn’t too trifling a word to describe their flight….from closely-grown Live Oaks and played tag in these two huge trees in the backyard.  They were mature enough Red Tails to have the brick red tail feathers, so they must have been at least 2-5 years old.  They were so marvelously matched, and having them so close, even though I had a large glass window between us on the second story…..I would flinch when they flew by.  They were that close, or perhaps….they were that big.

My hens were protected by Gally ….whose formal name is Galahad, a big mook of a shepherd and Great Dane. He was a stray and just his Tyrolean bark declares this to be his property.

Years ago, when I first became interested in the wildlife of the South, I had a mailman who gave me some advice about Red Tails.

They taste like chicken.

Apparently, Red Tails were on the farmer’s menu way back then, and probably are still.  Since they are also called ‘Chicken Hawks’

you can see why  they would be good eating.

Lady Nyo


Chicken Hawk Talk

Chicken Hawk!

Leave my chickens alone!

I have worked hard for them,

A handmaiden of fowl.

Collecting beautiful eggs

The gift of the species

Naturally dyed

Pink, brown, blue-green and white.

Presented at Easter,

A symbol of the Lamb of God,

And the Spring of Life.

Leave my chickens alone, hawk.

I won’t even share.

I remember, two short years ago,

When I first saw you wheeling over the kudzu

Riding the thermals,

Not even graced with the brick colored tail of a Proper Redtailed hawk,

And I gasped at your splendor, a winged god

From the cosmos, glittering white ash against a cobalt sky,

And you landed one day in my birdbath,

Trying to look like a stone sculpture,

And just the flicker of your 8x eyes

Looked over the songbirds for lunch.

Jane Kohut-Birdtells

Copyrighted, 2009

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