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Survival of the Fittest in Pe Ell

February 19, 2007

Returning to the house after feeding the small flock of chickens my wife keeps in the back yard, (for the fresh, free range, hemp seed fed omega enriched eggs we have come to appreciate,) I noticed a big Red Tail hawk perched atop a large maple tree 200 yards down the abandon rail road tracks at the old mill site. I watched the hawk take flight and begin soaring higher and higher. Turning my attention back to the chicken pen came the ever present local crow population competing with the chickens for the grain and kitchen scraps I had just deposited.

We had lost a young hen a few days before and my thoughts returned to the hawk. Did that hawk take our hen? There are skunks, possum, raccoons, weasel, mink, and numerous other critters roaming the area that are also likely suspects for the answer to the missing hen.

I had walked into the house and was getting a drink of water at the kitchen sink looking out the window when bang, like a bolt of lightning, that red tail came from the heavens and slammed one of the crows pinning it to the ground. Getting a good grasp with its talons, the big red tail lifted off and took its prey over the hedge row to be devoured.

After being so impressed I had witnessed nature at its most violent, I mentioned the incident to a few of my neighbors who also have back yard mini egg factories. All had noticed the presence of the flying predator in the area and all had lost chickens. One neighbors told me she lost 7 of her bantams. Guns are at the ready, endangered species act or not, this is war.

Well, that’s not the end of the story. Our flock has dwindled to one hen and 2 roosters. Not a good ratio. I mentioned to the wife we should either get more hens or rid ourselves of one non-egg laying, scratch eating, early crowing occupant of the chicken house.

We procrastinated to long. The young rooster had had enough hazing from the old bird and the fight was on. It was a bloody mess. Ellen ran out with a broom to effect diplomacy leaving the gate open. The fight continued with no deference to Ellen’s attempts to intervene. Out of the pen they came, over the flower garden, under the deck. The momentum of the battle swayed to and fro, with the old bird getting the early advantage. The fight continued and moved to the front yard, then the road. Traffic was forced to stop. I considered charging admission, or at least start making book.

The battle on Cedar St. came to an end after 15 minutes of near mortal combat under a car in the parking space in front of the house. When the dust and feathers cleared, the younger cock with more stamina prevailed.

While the big Red Tail still rules the sky over the neighborhood, the corner of Pe Ell Ave. and Cedar St. definitely has a new cock on the block. Nature is cruel to the preyed upon, and old cocks that have lost their stamina.

E-nuff from Pe Ell; HempEd

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