Until this week, we had eight chickens and one duck living reasonably contented lives on the flat parts of our roof. Kirstin and Boo were the main caretakers of the fowl. We had two generations of chickens up there, and we were excited to be getting into egg production in a bigger way.
Very late Monday night, the dogs got onto the roof. We have a gate at the top of the stairs, but somehow it was left unlatched that night. We all slept through the sad events, until Boo got up just before dawn, having heard some noises above her head.
The chickens had taken to sleeping inside of a large backhoe tire which has been stored on the roof. Living in the city as we do, and with dogs at ground level, we didn't have worries about predators, so the chickens had been given free rein of the roof day and night. They would put themselves to bed in the tire each evening.
The dogs discovered the chickens in the tire, and proceeded to pull them out and carry them to another part of the roof. They didn't eat the chickens, and they really didn't maul them much either. But, just by carrying them off, they killed all the chickens from the tire, and the duck who slept nearby.
If you aren't familiar with chickens and ducks (and birds in general) it is an interesting fact that they become semi-comatose in the dark. At night you can pick up a bird and clip its wings, or handle it in other ways, and it doesn't struggle. So, I assume the dogs had no response from the chickens, as they went in and out of the tire, carrying them off.
The grisly discovery on Tuesday morning was bad enough, but we also had another problem. In carrying the birds from one part of the roof to another, the dogs had crossed the non-flat part of the roof a number of times. These non-flat areas are places where the roof levels are slightly higher than the flat parts, slanted, and covered with clay tiles. Clay tiles break very easily, and the dogs had broken quite a few of the tiles as they went back and forth.
It is the middle of the dry season, so you wouldn't really expect to have a rainy morning - unless, of course, you had big holes in your tile roof, your husband was away on business, and it was a holiday week where you knew you'd have trouble purchasing tiles and hiring a worker to do the repairs. Since we had all of those elements in place, we did indeed have a rare rainy morning on Tuesday.
First it sprinkled, while Rachel and Chris worked valiantly to strategically place pieces of clay tiles in places where it looked like water would flow through. They also covered part of the roof with a tarp. Then it poured! Fortunately, the work the kids did kept most of the water from coming into the house, and it didn't pour for very long - maybe about 15 minutes.
Later in the day, Alan Hayes was able to bring us some additional tiles, and Russell came home from the construction site to complete some more permanent repairs on the tile roof.
There was one chicken, one nameless second generation hen, who was at the bottom of the roof pecking order. To protect her from the other chickens, we had been keeping her in a small empty cistern on the roof. She could get in and out of the cistern when she wanted to, but it was her haven, and she slept there alone. She was the only survivor of the chicken massacre. She now has a name. We call her "Lucky."