Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chicken Tragedy

Note to readers: this post is kind of long and about our chickens, so if that's boring to you, don't read it.

A couple of nights ago, I was awakened at 3:00 am by the squawking of chickens, which is never a good thing. Their coop is visible from our bedroom window, but there was no moon and I couldn't see anything. Jon wasn't home--he'd gone up to Scout Camp to be with Zed and Jacob--so after yelling out the window, which usually scares predators away, I went outside with the flashlight. (I really don't like to yell outside at night, especially in the summer when people have their windows open, but it's better than a shotgun blast, I guess.) I don't really like to wander around outside at 3:00 in the morning, but it had occurred to me that I had not verified the shutting up of the chickens before we went to bed.

Well, the bad news is that I found the coop door open, and inside were two sleepy chickens. Not ten, like we'd had the day before, but two. Piles of feathers in various places: black, butterscotch, white. I looked around a little but saw nothing. The wind through the dry grass was kind of loud and spooky. For a while I imagined a human stealing our chickens--stuffing baffled chickens into a big Santa-like sack--because that's better than imagining what it most likely was: dogs, foxes, or coyotes. Seems like the smaller predators, like skunks, are more modest in their theft. They'll kill one or two, even leaving the body. But dogs and foxes just make off with as many as possible. I don't even know if they eat them. (One time after a similar chickie massacre, we found one headless body out in the field north of us.)

I felt pretty crappy and didn't sleep well after that. I hoped some or all of them would appear the next morning, which sometimes happens. They scatter in a panic and find their way home hours later, after hiding under the neighbor's porch or something. But morning came and no chickens returned. I mowed the lawn and moped and felt horrible and sad. Two chickens are not nearly as festive as ten, and this batch was so pretty and they hardly ever crapped on our front porch.

Around 6:00 pm, a small miracle happened. Phin went to feed our lonely two, and a third was wandering around next to the chicken yard! Who knows where she was all day. Now I like to imagine a few other survivors moving into other people's yards, unable to find their way home but alive and well. Yeah, I know they're dead, but it makes me feel better.

So we have three chickens left out of ten. Better than two, I guess. We have one Black Sex-Link (the name means that you can tell what sex the chicks are by their markings) and two gray Araucanas (or maybe Ameraucanas; I'm not sure about the distinction). At any rate, I'm glad to have them, because they lay blue eggs and have what Jon calls leg-warmers.

Sorry, chickies. We loved you!

5 comments:

  1. Darn! That is the pitts! :(

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  2. I really think that there are more still alive. I know just what you mean by the leg warmer kind thats so funny! my favorite line was that they hardly ever crapped on the porch!

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  3. Well, at least we still have three, and they are even laying eggs still. Ten hens was a perfect number for supplying eggs for our family, though, so I miss the other seven.

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  4. Oh Erin, I am so sorry to hear about your chickens. That really does stink. Such great luck though that 1 more came around. I think you are a brave women for going outside at 3:00 in the morning.

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  5. That was sort of heart wrenching. When is baby chick season. I guess it's not winter, right? You need to replace them as soon as you can, with more beautiful varieties.

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