It’s already happened. One of our sweet girls has already been taken by the big guy in the sky. By big guy in the sky I mean, most likely, one of the hawks that continuously circle our neighborhood looking for field mice and baby chickens and probably small dogs as well. They were not alone for long but it didn’t take much for Lucy to disappear and never return.
I know this happens and it’s going to happen again. I know farm animals die, especially when you don’t coop them up all day long, and because: circle of life blahblahblah. But I cannot tell you how much this loss hurt, how much it felt like MY failure. It was my responsibility to care for these tiny babies and it was my decision to free range them and it was even me who said to my friend Sabrina as she was leaving town “they’ll be fine!”. They were not fine.
It is even more my failure because I thought I did enough research but it turns out everyone has a different opinion about when chickens are old enough to free range. I now have a different opinion as well. This is my first time with chickens and I didn’t realize what a difference a few weeks would make. Just two weeks after Lucy disappeared Ethel is basically covered in her adult feathers and is heavier and bigger. She’s also smarter and more cautious, although that might be because of the trauma of seeing her sister carried away.
We purchased the guineas to help protect the hens but they must be even younger than the chickens because they basically follow Ethel around as if she is their mom. They aren’t protecting anything, the lazy bums. For about a week after Lucy disappeared we were constantly looking around the coop, hoping in vain that she would come home. It’s a strange feeling, that weird little last bit of hope that you know you shouldn’t have but you do.
One thing I did well was make sure their home was finished so that they could move in, so at least I can’t fault myself there (trying to find some silver lining here). My fabulous mother in law spent one Sunday working with me to seal up the vents with hardware cloth (OMGsoannoying), attach the roof, and paint it and I have to say – I am proud of what the moms and I did (my mom helped me with the construction of the home). We used some free home depot plans that I am not going to link to because I would make SO many changes to those plans if I could and they were really difficult to follow. One day I’ll build another coop straight from my brainspace that fixes all of that and share those with you.
Because no project is ever complete here at Riotous Living Farm my mom is currently working on some beautiful white trim for the coop and we still need a stylish egg collecting basket to hang from that carabiner.