I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared that we have chickens! We’ve had chickens since 2014 – the summer after we moved into our home. Keeping our ladies has been an adventure and earlier this week there was another turn in the story.
I’ll start at the beginning so that you can understand my low grade trauma with this situation. In 2014, we got our first flock of chickens… 6 or 8, I think. When they were itty babies, we kept them in our basement to keep them warm and away from predators. As they got larger, they created such a mess – chicken dust was all over EVERYTHING in the basement and their water bottles were always gunked up from having dust kicked around on them. I was so relieved when it finally warmed up enough to put them outside.
My wonderful husband built a coop and a run. The coop was strong and sturdy – nothing was going to get in there. The run had hardware cloth all around it, including under the ground so that nothing could dig in and get to our girls. We had bird netting across the top to make sure hawks or other predatory birds wouldn’t be able to swoop in and scoop anybody up. I happily plopped them into their fortress where they could run and play without running into the walls of the small box they were living in before.
Only a few mornings later I walked outside and noticed that there wasn’t any movement from the chickens. As I looked closer, I noticed their bodies lying still on the ground. Without going into much detail, they were all missing their heads. Every single one of them. We later found a bloody track in the run that looked like a raccoon, so we think that a raccoon climbed up the side of the hardware cloth and slipped in through the bird netting. There was some digging on the ground around the coop, but nothing that actually made it inside, which is why we think that this murderer came from above.
We were able to get another flock soon after that, but my husband made sure to put hardware cloth over the top so that nothing could get in anywhere. We still have most of the girls from that second flock – a couple died from weather related issues or bad health, but there hasn’t been a predator that has made its way in.
We decided to get another flock the summer of 2016. Because we didn’t want to have to integrate the two flocks, my husband built an additional coop in the backyard. This time, instead of a tightly sealed run, we decided to go with an electric fence and to just make sure they can be safety sealed into their coop at night.
It’s worked really well so far, until Monday. I haven’t always been the best about closing them up at night and had depended on the electric fence to keep them safe from anything snooping around. On Monday morning, as I was looking out the backdoor, I saw one bird on the ground and a ton of feathers swirling around the run. I opened the door and stepped onto the back porch, because usually that wakes up the birds and they jump up and run towards the house in hopes of a treat. This time: no movement. Ruh roh. Deja vu.
Because Matt works nights, he was still asleep. I went into our bedroom, raised the blinds, and woke him up. As I was sitting on the side of the bed describing what I saw, I kid you not: a hawk landed on the tree branch right outside of our window. And because there weren’t any tracks around the chicken fence, I am pretty sure it was a hawk that attacked our beautiful little ladies!!
When Matt went out to assess the damage, he found one lonely little chicken still alive. As he started feeding and watering her, three more popped out of the woods. They must have flown the coop during the attack! On Tuesday evening I was weeding my rosebushes and my three year old shouted from the side of the house, “It’s a chicken!!” A fifth chicken was poking around in the woods! I’ve tried coaxing her out with food and water, but she is very skittish and afraid. She came out a bit further on Wednesday and was circling the chicken fence, but I couldn’t catch her to help her back inside — she just kept running away! So we might just have a chicken living in the woods for a while, which is okay. I just worry about something snatching her! To heighten my anxiety, I didn’t see her at all on Thursday, so I’m really worried that something happened to her.
This is my call to her to come home!! We have food and water and four of your sisters waiting to welcome you home!