Calvings to avian murder

IT’S been life and death on a sliding scale this week. From successful calving to tragedy. From surprise hatchings to avian murder.

The hatchings centred on a sneaky bantam that has evaded incarceration in the hen house and made herself a nest on the silage heap.

The murder was my poor little budgie Samuel by the jaws of our Jack Russell, Millie. A thoroughly unrepentant killer it turns out.

Samuel had probably been a marked bird for some weeks. Samuel loved a fly round, and I used to indulge him as a caged bird always seems so sad. We rarely shut the door as Samuel never left the dining room.

But Millie, who had shown an unhealthy interest in the bird I now recall, must some how have snatched Samuel out of the air.

When I called her at lunch, she scampered into the kitchen proudly chewing on the crumpled remains of Samuel with no intention of letting go either. You would not believe how many feathers a budgie has. I’m still finding them.

The successful calving came with no credit to farm management. The cows involved had all calved in previous years and knew their job.

John had seen them bagging up and was keeping an eye on them, but each one chose a time when no-one was around to proudly present us with healthy calves. Bar one.

This particular cow has had two calves. As we went to bed John set the alarm clock to get up in an hour to check on her as she had shown signs of being close to calving.

As he had not come back within a quarter of an hour I got up too and went out to see if he needed a hand.

By then he had the cow in the crush and realised that the calf was coming backwards. Not always a problem, but in this case its legs were all facing forward, so there was no leg/hoof to attach the calving aid to and she was too tight to get his hand in to try and pull the legs back.

“The calf hasn’t kicked back either” he said. Not a good sign. Normally you would expect a repulse from the calf when you try to get hold of it.

“So the vet came out. Was able to relax the cow’s uterus with an injection and turn the calf enough for us to get the calving aid on, but with no joy. The calf was dead.

As the vet was washing his hands in the kitchen Mille jumped and fussed round him. “She’s a sweetie” he said.

“She’s not,” I replied, and let him know her criminal past.

“That’s a Jack Russell for you” he said “My three-year-old son came up to me yesterday with our hamster in his hands saying our Jack Russell had been playing with Hammy and could I mend it for him.

“I’m afraid I had to tell him Hammy was past mending.”