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Don't understand why people steal
October 25, 2015
Some things I just don't get about human beings. One of them's stealing. What makes a person think it's perfectly ok to take what's not theirs? In the summer we sold six of our rare Ardenner bantams, including four chicks, to a local couple, for whom the sudden loss of their hens had left a hole in their lives. We don't like selling chicks even if they are off-heat unless we can definitely sex them. With Ardenners that's difficult, for us anyway, but the couple persuaded me to let the four chicks go, and I offered to take back any that turned out to be males. This week I got the inevitable call: three of them were making game attempts to crow. OK, so I collected them and brought them back to our land, and put them in a quarantine box with run. One was a stunning multi-coloured bird, the other two fairly dowdy, black with silver neck feathers emerging. Thirty-six hours later I went to let the flock out in the morning and the three cockerels had gone. No feathers, no blood, no bones, just still-fresh bedding. Somebody had just lifted the lid of the box in the night and taken them. After howling abuse at humanity for ten minutes or so and stomping around in the vain hope of seeing them strolling around the field or in the woods, I accepted they had gone. It's not good to feel somebody has tramped about uninvited among your birds and taken their pick but apart from an empty, run of the mill cigarette packet by the gate, there was nothing unusual. Every time I've gone to the land since it's been a relief to find the flock all present and about as correct as they'll be when some are still enduring the moult. It's the sort of thing that dominates your thoughts at first and then for who knows how long keeps nagging away, sometimes when you least expect it. And you keep asking the same questions - why? how? The site is fairly remote, not near public footpaths, though people do occasionally roam about, and is next to a gliders' club whose devotees have about as much interest in my birds as I do in their isotherms. Did someone want three bantam cockerels? Highly unlikely unless they were into cock-fighting? Which does still happen, I know. Did the thief know they were Ardenners and extremely rare? Highly unlikely, but yes, we've talked about them on twitter and it's vaguely possible they were stolen to order. In which case did the thief think the two dowdy-looking boys were hens and this was a breeding trio? Maybe, and if that is the case then I'd like to see their faces when they discover the truth. Or did some passing stray do-gooder see them in their quarantine quarters, think it was cruel for them to be confined in much smaller pens than the rest of the flock, and release them? That's possible. Our neighbour recently had the RSPCA pay him a visit after somebody had reported him because his ducks were muddy. The RSPCA officer took about half a minute to realise the concerned member of the public was an idiot who didn't understand that even if they have clean water in abundance ducks sometimes just prefer rolling about in self-dug puddles. In the end we've just got to accept that we will probably never know what happened to our three Ardenners and will almost certainly never see them again. Psychologically, though, it sets the mind racing. What about that chick that disappeared a while back with no explanation? We just thought it had managed to slip out when our backs were turned, we'd missed it in the grass and it had been taken by the kestrel who hovers over the field on a daily basis - for which perceived crime I'd beaten myself up for a week or more. But maybe it was stolen too. And when we just assumed we'd made a mistake by leaving the gate to the Barnevelders' outer pen open last week, even though we were sure we'd shut it, had somebody paid us an unofficial visit and gone in there? The Barnevelders are too lazy to wander out - but, as docile as they are, for a stranger to catch even one in the outer pen would be relatively difficult. Did somebody try but give up? Stuff like this just sets your mind racing... and as the inordinate length of this blog shows, makes you keep searching for answers to the same, probably unanswerable questions over and again. Theft is an unfair, thoughtless, nasty, unjustiable crime - and messes up, to varying degrees and for a so-far indeterminate amount of time, those who are on the wrong end of it. End of rant. I prpmise the next blog will be happier!