It's the sort of thing that only happens to "other people," and then it happens to you. We were watching our friends' chickens over the past couple of weeks, and literally the day before they were supposed to return, a few of their birds got taken out. I couldn't believe it, what a bummer. They were cool about it, I guess when you have chickens you get somewhat accustomed to things like this happening, but it's a bummer when it happens on your watch.
We were in charge of two sets of chickens, 14 birds in all, and not only was it a bit of a chore (we really worked hard on this one), but it was stressful. You realize that chickens are so helpless and vulnerable out here in the woods, and you have to be vigilant about making sure they are safe and secure in their homes. This is especially true in the evening, when the predators come out to hunt.
It was a relief on many levels when SA came home because not only was it one less set of birds to watch, but their birds made it out alive. That left one group left, and they're the ones that got hit. What makes it all the more difficult to fathom is that it happened on the day before they were set to return. Our friends were supposed to come back on Tue morning, and three of the chickens were hit on Monday afternoon. Boy, talk about a bummer. I went over on Monday morning before work to let them out of their coop, and all was well. I took N over around noon to feed the cats and chickens, and noticed that it was quiet. Usually the birds come to greet you and you can here them chirping.
We fed the cats and as we were walking to the pen, I saw this massive pile of feathers and thought, "This can't be good." There was a second pile, and when we went into the coop, the birds were all gone. We searched the area and found that the garden gate had been pried open and the chickens had escaped into the yard. I know I sealed the gate when I left because we had to open it when we returned. The opening occurred in the garden section of their pen, and it almost looked like someone or something had pulled the fence apart because the gap was big enough for me to fit through.
Now normally this isn't the end of the world. We kept the birds in the pen, but our friends let the chickens roam free all the time. They even said that if the chickens get out, just leave the gate open and they will return to the coop at dusk. It's just that this time around, something came and took half of them out. At first I thought they were all gone, but we found one wandering around by the garage. We tried to corral her in, but she wasn't going for it. We had to leave to pick up A, and I was worried that whatever ate the others would come back and get her, but what are you going to do? We had to go. We figured that we could come back and try to get her back in, especially since A has a magical touch when it comes to animals.
As luck would have it, when we got back, there were actually three survivors. We managed to get them into the pen and closed things up, and then I had to make the call to our friends and give them the bad news. They were cool about it, and I as I mentioned, I think it comes with the territory, but we still felt crappy. JP said to just put them in the for the evening and he would return the next morning and let them out himself. I offered to get them new birds but they said it wasn't necessary.
All in all, our experience with chickens was a learning experience, but it sure as heck doesn't inspire me to get them for ourselves any time soon.
Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chris Bartow for the pic.