Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chickens come and go

We bought our twenty chickens just in time for our grandsons to learn the joys of baby chicks. Kieran and Jasper the older two, cradled them gently in their cupped hands, satisfied just to watch them and feel their fragile bodies beneath the fluffy feathers.

Dave and I enjoyed walking out to the barn first thing in the morning to let them out into their run and returning to the barn every evening to shut them up safe. We checked on the sheep and talked to the chickens on each trip. It was very bucolic, perhaps too bucolic. I was actually looking forward to the day the last chicken learned to fly so that they could use our automatic chicken door that closed at dusk and opened at dawn.

And then one morning when Dave went out, there were only three live chickens left in the coup. A critter had climbed the fence and found her way through the automatic chicken door. What ever kind of animal it was, the critter must have been working for weeks to find a way into the coup and had finally succeeded.

Dave shut off the automatic door and reinforced the fence, but the next morning the last three chickens were dead.

I was stunned at how sad I felt, way out of proportion to the amount of love I thought I had for those chickens. But I cared. I had treasured the joy in Kieran and Simon and Jasper's responses, the expectation of someday gathering eggs, the pleasure I got from watching the chicks change from fuzzy balls of down to scraggly adolescents, to beautiful adult plumage  in black and white and brown. We would have been butchering our soon. But to have something else butcher them, and not to even eat them all, that was so sad.

Dave and I are working on plans for a more secure chicken coop. Next spring, we'll begin again. After all we should have remembered, chicken lives are fragile, they come and go.

No comments:

Post a Comment