It was a bummer when we lost a bird to a red tail hawk last summer, but there was also something ok with it… something out of our control, something about the food chain and nutrient cycling. The redtail went after the little one – the baby guinea – and she ate it all up. We watched her pull it apart as she was perched up on the hop trellis. It was a good reminder that we are growing, farming, with nature. We’re growing at nature’s mercy, really, and we are appreciative.
However, it is harder to find consolation when losing birds to a dog. It seems a much more careless, savage death. A waste. The dog’s not hungry, just playing. The other night we got about 8″ of snow, and as a result most of the birds were cozied up, comfortable in the coop. First thing in the morning we opened their pop door, despite the snow – we like to give them the option of enjoying the day outside. A big handsome husky found his way into the coop. Radish alerted us to the dog. Jeremy bolted out to chase it away. We lost four birds. Part of what’s so troublesome about this is that it is counter to the attention and love that we have in caring for the animals, which includes providing them a deliberate, thoughtful, humane death.
Makes me think back to when we first got started up here. Radish got one of our neighbor’s birds. A beautiful old hen named Nutmeg. I was mortified. I’m still mortified. Our neighbor actually consoled me, graciously telling me how she was a old hen, probably not laying anymore, not even worth stewing, dogs are dogs, etc., etc. Ever since, Radish has been on leash lock-down if she’s anywhere near birds. And I have a fair amount of work to do to build up my losing livestock calluses.
We’re feeling pretty blue around here. Salvaging the birds for stew and setting to repair the fencing. The ground is still frozen, so for the time being, we’ve “patched” the fence with pallets. Not ever having butchered laying hens before, we got exposure to a little bit of different anatomy. Athena even had a hard-shelled egg right ready to drop. We’re headed over to a friend’s ranch tomorrow to learn about raising bum lambs. Which means we’ll need more/better fencing. And I’ll need thicker calluses.
We just finished dinner. Jeremy made butter chicken curry, with farm potatoes and peppers. Finished with a poem – A Prayer After Eating, by Wendell Berry
I have taken in the light
that quickened eye and leaf.
May my brain be bright with praise
of what I eat, in the brief blaze
of motion and of thought.
May I be worthy of my meat.
6 thoughts on “losing chickens”
Ohhhhh, hugs from us to you! So, so sorry about your hennies. These are the things that make farming so difficult.
Sent from my iPhone
Lemons –> Lemonade
Dead Birds –> Chicken Stock
Thanks for this putting this post up. I’ll be sending positive vibes your way. Thinking of Peg & the others tonight. Forwards with %-Farm, backwards with K9-Harm.
Beautiful choice of poem, sorry for the canine chaos and loss – Deanna
Hey Trish and Jeremy – very sad news from Cycle Farm this evening, but still so very good to be taken into your world… apart from this sad event, your small feathered dinosaurs are given the best possible life that small feathered dinosaurs could ever want.
Sad day, guys. So sorry. My heart goes out to the hard working farmers who put so much love and care into those hard working birds….Hopefully you can find some measure of comfort in how much respect we all have for the thoughful and deliberate way in which you steward our food. Love, Avery (and her very bad chicken killing dog)
Set My Chickens Free, Merle Haggard
Good luck with those Lambies…little pigs are nice, too.