Friday, 17 February 2012

Redneck Mafia

My sweater is so close to done I'll probably be casting off tonight, and I've started a pair of socks. They're Jenna Hurry's 'Alpha', in last winter's Interweave, only I'm having to rejig them a tad, since my gauge is not quite the same, and I really want to use this wool -  a grey marl alpaca from Rhinebeck year before last.

I know I'm going to be fidgety enough to require extra knitting in the next few days. Not only do I have a job interview Tuesday, but the news from my parent's place is worrying, and it'll be Sunday before I hear whether things have been resolved.

I spoke to my mother last night, and she said they'd had what she termed, with grim humour, a St. Valentine's Day massacre. She came home that afternoon to find over half the laying hens and the rooster mauled and dead (but none eaten, oh, no, this was in sport), scattered over the yard, and a few traumatized survivors, two badly wounded.

After tending the injured, cleaning up the mess, and locking the survivors in the barn, she went tracking. Canine tracks, she said, two of them, bigger than coyote and smaller than their dog, (who was thankfully in the house - he's older and not a fighter.) She trailed them through the prickly ash and scrub, and came out on the road, where she lost them.

The neighbor on one side had seen two big, well-kept huskies around midday, and not liking the way they were approaching, she barricaded herself and her animals in the house, after which the dogs had gone down my parent's lane. At the neighbor on the other side, she found the son visiting, and he was, in her words, hopping mad. Seems the dogs had come over (presumably after taking out the chickens) and started threatening him and his mother while they were in the yard. He got her into the house - she recently had a hip operation - and was going for his shotgun, but the dogs wouldn't let him out of the house, until they eventually got bored and left.

The thing about the country, is you can usually find out not only about the animals in question, but also their owners. Inquiry revealed that the people attached to the dogs recently rented a place on the next road, had completely trashed the last place they rented, and were the sort who, if asked to confine their dogs as a nuisance (either privately or officially), would a) say you had no proof, b) NOT lock the dogs up, c) claim they were being harassed, and/or d) find a way of getting revenge on the complainant, which could range from theft to arson.

Mom said she doesn't feel safe going for a walk with the dog anymore, the chickens remaining can't be allowed outside, and the cats - well, luckily it's winter and they don't go out much, but she's going to worry anytime one of them wants to go, even if they can climb trees. She could hear the dogs howling nearby while we talked.

There's an unofficial rule in the country, though. If an animal is harming livestock, the farmer is just as likely to deal with the issue himself. And these dogs were killing for the sport of it and threatening adult humans in broad daylight, so a very real hazard. Of the households most threatened by the dogs, three have shotguns and one has a backhoe, and it gets very Mafia - no-one will have seen or heard anything odd if questioned, but the next time the dogs come and make trouble for someone, they will, with any luck, disappear, and someone will decide to do a bit of ditch-digging with the backhoe the next day. It's not the first time there have been issues with dogs in the area, although it's more often due to idiots who dump unwanted animals out on a country road, and figure they'll be able to fend for themselves - which they do, by going feral and killing livestock. But until word comes that the problem has been solved, I know I will be worrying about what could happen, and very thankful, for once, to be in the city, miles away.


  1. Yikes... I know that at one point, my "brothers" had to kill some coyotes up near the farm because they were leaving half-eaten dear carcasses all over our property, but we haven't had much trouble with animals other than that. Granted, it's DEEP country, and you've got a 15-20 minute walk to reach your nearest neighbors, so everybody knows everybody else, and there are no renters anywhere.

    Hope the situation gets resolved soon!