It was a fairly lazy day today, and was quite enjoyable until about 18h30. The hens had been let out at around 18h00 (for the third day running). We were outside chatting to T&M who had dropped in to bring us a box of plums from T’s grandmother’s orchard. (These are going to be fermented to make some …er… wine. Making anything stronger than that would, of course, be illegal.)
We noticed a family of tourists on bicycles approaching, with a dog.
The next thing we knew was that the dog (some sort of Chow cross) had disappeared into the wooded area across from the farmhouse, and there was suddenly a tremendous amount of squawking from the hens (we didn’t know they were in that particular area). LSS shouted at the chap that the dog was after our hens; he got off his bicycle and called for the dog – initially without much success. Eventually it obeyed and reappeared, he put it on its lead, and said he’d be back this way later. After a lot of calling and rattling of the food bucket we finally managed to get the hens to come home.
But a swift leg-count (divided by two) revealed that there were only six. I went to look in the area where the dog had disappeared, and found that it had killed one; one of the youngest. LSS was beside herself with anger. About twenty minutes later the cyclists reappeared, and a flood of French invective was poured onto the head of the hapless dog-owner. I suspect they were Dutch, as the chap switched into English as soon as LSS turned to me to discuss a suitable solution.
He offered to pay for the hen, and said he would return with the money shortly. To his credit, that is what he did. I suspect this event spoiled his day as much as it did ours. This is the problem nowadays; people just don’t think. “Ooh, countryside with farmhouses. The dog can roam free here; there’s no traffic.” The thing is, if this event had happened at a neighbouring farm, a shotgun would have been employed, and the tourists would have gone home sans dog.
So we’re now down to six hens; and as we have several people wanting to buy eggs, we have decided to get another four. We will also devise some means of letting them out of their pen without the risk of them straying too far; we’ll have a look if there is any temporary fencing material we can find at the aged FIL’s farm, and construct a larger (movable) run for them.