Heather Harrisson

When the fox comes

There's a serial killer who visits
My house in the dead of night.
Attacking my sisters together,
Causing them terror and fright.

He kills them mercilessly,
Taking them one by one,
He'll rip the head off the oldest.
Tear the skin off of some.

I run out to stop him each time,
And he scarpers from me in fear,
Then I desperately try to find,
Where my sisters are hiding near.

One lies under a tree,
Quiet without complaint,
I carry her into the house,
Lay her down before I feel faint.

Only then do I notice the blood,
See too many marks in her flesh,
Her breathing is shallow and hard,
Then I watch her take her last breath.

Spurred on to save the others,
I venture back into the cold,
In hope that some of them are,
Hiding safe, just like they were told.

One of my sisters lies still,
The inside parts are spread out,
Though it hurts, I leave her there,
There's nothing I can do for her now.

Another sits quiet in a puddle,
I can see her breathing still,
I crawl forward to pick her up,
Her closed eyes don't see me until,

I put my hands around her,
And she screams in terror and pain.
As frantically try to calm her,
Telling her it's all ok.

I take her inside as well,
And put her safe in a room,
All on her own where she sits,
Hoping that I'll be back soon.

Another hides under a wall,
And I collect her without trouble,
Walking into the house,
To find my sisters had already doubled.

One had crept in the open door,
While I was out looking for others,
And now sat by the wall simply staring,
Wishing for comfort from mother.

I ventured out once again,
I still had two to find,
But no matter how hard I looked,
I couldn't find them outside.

Finally I found a small spot,
So narrow and hard to see,
Where two of my sisters had hidden,
Waiting and praying for me.

One seemed fine as I took her,
Into the warm safe room,
But the other was covered in blood,
Like she was already in her tomb.

I picked her up all the same,
And carried her under my arm,
Trying hard not to hear her whimper,
Trying so hard to stay calm.

I took her into the kitchen,
Where my other sister lay dead,
And set to work cleaning her wounds,
Tried to wash away all the red.

Her skin had been ripped from her back,
Her hair pulled out in clumps,
Under her arm, a bite mark,
To my throat there came a lump.

I applied antiseptic fluid,
In the hope it would stop infection,
And bandaged her up so much,
She looked like an ancient Egyptian.

Then I took her poor dead sister,
And carried her out of the house,
Lay her down with the other dead body,
On the grass, or thereabouts.

I returned to the sisters still living,
Five of them to be exact,
Gave them food and water and comfort,
Knowing the ordeal had an impact.

Then I kissed each one goodnight,
And tried to sleep some more,
Knowing that he would return,
To torture us just like before.

  • Author: Heather Harrisson (Offline Offline)
  • Published: January 19th, 2019 19:57
  • Comment from author about the poem: As an animal lover and an owner of chickens, my worst fear is waking up in the night to hear them screaming and knowing the fox is in with them. True to people who have never had chickens or who aren't animal lovers as such, it may seem a bit OTT and dramatic to refer to a fox as a "serial killer" and poultry as "sisters", but honestly that's how it feels. Every single chicken I have ever had, has been special to me, has been loved and taken care of. I don't just have them because they give me eggs, I really love them all. They have this huge home we built for them in the garden with plenty of things to do and space to move around. Usually the place is like fort knox but those foxes always find a way somehow. The worst times are when we haven't heard them in the night and we go out in the morning to find every single one of them dead. Foxes don't just take what they need, they kill everything in sight, then take one, maybe two with them. Of course, I hold nothing against the foxes, I know how nature works, I know they just want to survive, but it still hurts to have my little girls taken from me so awfully. All our chickens that we have had over the years have been raised by us from eggs, we've seen them hatch, named them, watched them develop personalities and discover new things so they really are like family. It's hard not to get sad and cry when an individual who's whole life you have been a part of is killed or dies suddenly. True we have lost some chickens to natural causes or illnesses. One of out lovely girls was terribly egg-bound and we were treating her for months before she finally died. I spent many days bathing, yes bathing that chicken and cleaning all the gunk out of her poor sore bottom. Now if that's not love, I don't know what it. It's just as horrible, if not more so, to wake up to the screaming at 2 am and to run out, terrified for not just their lives but also for my own own safety, these foxes aren't as scared of humans as they used to be and more often than not, I run out in such a hurry I don't have a torch so cant see a thing, I just have to hope the animal isn't coming for me. This poem is totally true, every word of this happened only a few months ago. We were lucky enough, if I can use the term lucky here, to only lose two girls that night, but it was still awful. The worst was having to watch one die, knowing there was nothing I could do, simply holding her and stroking her till she finally went, hoping all the time that I wouldn't be forced to end her life for her. Another nasty thing is tending to the wounds. Four of our girls were more or less unharmed, just a few feathers pulled, but the one mentioned in the poem who I bandaged, she was awful. The skin was torn off her back and was hanging there, barely attached. Thankfully I have enough medical knowledge to know that if a large amount of skin is hanging of, you do not take it off! You clean underneath as best as you can, then flap it back over and allow it to heal, or in human cases, get them to a damn hospital. Not many people know that your skin is actually an organ, the biggest you have, and if you lose enough of it, you just wont survive without serious treatment. In this poor chickens case, her name by the way, is Maleficent (I know, cracking name right?) the poor little darling had to stay very still while I clipped her wigs back to nothing so as to make sure they didn't get stuck in the wound. She was such a brave girl, we put her in a washing up bowl filled with nice warm water which helped with the pain and shock and thanks to the wonders of chicken health websites, were able to find a way to dull the pain for her with tiny amounts of crushed aspirin sprinkled on some nice juicy raisins. We cleaned her up with the mildest anti-septic spray for wounds we could find, cut all the feathers off the flap of skin so they wouldn't get sealed into the wound and cause problems, placed the skin as gently as possible back over her poor poor back and finally bandaged her up. Again this was at 2 am, just me and my brother trying to look after 5 chickens in our tiny house because we were too scared to put them back outside for the night. We kept four of our girls in the kitchen, they all cuddled up together, it was both adorable and sad. Lovely little Maleficent stayed in the front hallway for the night, after we made sure to remove coats and shoes so as to avoid unpleasant packages being left in our trainers. To be honest, we weren't sure if she would make it through the night, but we figured only time would tell. Still covered in mud and blood and feathers, we were both so exhausted we just had to go back to bed and hope they would all be OK. I woke up pretty early which is unusual but I put it down to my subconscious wanting me to check on my gorgeous girls. I was really hesitant to open the hallway door, certain she would be dead; being a lover of animals I have often tried to save injured creatures and over the years most of my attempts have been failures, not because I did anything wrong, but just because the animals were too far gone by the time I found them. I opened the door slowly and gently and peaked round. My heart leapt when I saw her sitting comfortably on the shoe rack, looking over at me and clucking quietly. I was so happy! I was sure that if she made it through the night she would be OK, and here she was, totally fine! My brother and I put the other girls back outside and secured their home, though we had little worries during the day time. We then had the joyous task of cleaning up after them. Have you ever put four very stressed chickens in a room for several hours? I tell you it is not pretty! Poo, everywhere, up the walls, on the counter tops, honestly I don't know how they managed it but they really did redecorate. We also had three extremely smelly rotten eggs which they had kindly bestowed upon our kitchen, poor dears, so that was fun getting rid of the smell. We spent hours cleaning, disinfecting and cleaning again, not just the kitchen but the hallway and the living room too which had blood here and there from when we carried them in. I had a hospital appointment to get to that day as well, so needless to say I was tired, stressed and very very busy. I got to my appointment by bus so ended up getting in early and spent a ridiculous amount of money on an anti-septic spray specifically for chickens and more bandages, before actually heading to the hospital. I finally got home and Maleficent was still quite happy. She was eating and drinking well, which was a huge relief, it's when they don't eat that you really really worry, because its almost like they've given up. We were still giving her little doses of aspirin which is really important because apparently, chicken feel pain as much as humans but will pretend they are OK so as not to attract predators. My poor little girl was trying to act tough, so I was sure to keep her comfy and happy. We decided to give her a proper shower down in the bath to ensure she was totally clean before reapplying the dressing and you know what, showering a chicken is not nearly as hard as I though it would be. She was very calm and seemed to enjoy it actually, I think the warm water helped soothe her and it was nice to get all the blood stains out of her feathers. We clipped her wings and feathers on her back again and she seemed so much smaller, it's amazing how much bigger the feathers make them look! She looked like she did when she was little, just getting rid of her baby fluff. After her bath we dried her off nicely and let her walk around in the hallway for a bit, just to let it dry out. We had applied the special chicken spray thing which she didn't seem too fond of but I think it was because the bottle made a hissing noise when I sprayed it. We let the wound dry out a bit before putting another dressing on so she wouldn't peck at herself. We kept her in for a few days, reapplying the anti-septic, feeding her drugged up raisins and giving her plenty of cuddles until we were able to leave the bandage off without her pecking at it. I kind of enjoyed having her in the house, I would take my phone into the hallway and stick some dumb you-tube video on, then sit on the floor next to Maleficent. She would climb up onto my lap, snuggle her head into my chest and fall asleep with me stroking her little head. She loved having her head and neck stroked, she would always close her eyes and make a soft "buuukbuuuk" when you did it. We kept her in another two days, mainly because it was winter and she had lost a lot of feathers, so I was worried the cold wouldn't be good for her, eventually though we took her out to see her sisters. Only problem with chickens is that if they are separated for a while, they get suspicious and if the one returning has wounds, well they're just asking for trouble. I made sure to keep an eye on them when we took her back because chickens have even been known to kill and cannibalise injured chickens, though I couldn't see my lovely ladies doing that to each other. We tried putting her straight back in with them but one of the girls, not naming names but it was Jasmine, began a fight almost instantly. It wasn't just the usual pecking squabbles I've seen these girls have before, she really went for her. So poor little Maleficent had to spend a few days in the smaller coop which we closed off from the others. She had plenty of food and water, which we had put a dash of cider vinegar in (they love it and it is SO good for them) and I was sure to go and visit her to check up on my lovely girl. Her sisters got used to her being there and within about three days, we were able to put her back with the others. They all got on perfectly, it was as if nothing had happened and my little Maleficent soon healed completely, grew all her feathers back and returned to her usual bossy role and control over her sisters. Oh yeah, Maleficent had always been in charge. To be honest, when I started writing this, I hadn't planned to tell the whole story, but, I guess I just wanted to show anyone who reads this that chickens aren't just for what you gain from them, I really love all my girls, they give me cuddles, they make me laugh, we raised them from eggs, no joke. And for anyone out there who is wondering if I would ever have them butchered and eat them when they stop laying eggs, my goodness the answer is a firm and disgusted NO. That's like me asking if you'll eat your dog when he gets to old to play catch. No, I would never. I love them all so much and we were so sad to lose two of our girls, it was Fiona and Ariel who died, we have left Maleficent, Elsa, Belle, Jasmine and, named by my brother, Kebab. Every one of them is a gorgeous individual member of our family, with their own personalities and quirks. I love them all, and I hope you can see that in this little poem.
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