What I don't like is when we lose one to a predator.
The other afternoon, I looked out our kitchen window and saw what I thought was a hen standing underneath a bush between our house and our neighbor's house. Now, the hen shouldn't have been there (the bush is not in the chicken yard) and I didn't have my glasses on, so I just stood there staring at her. What I couldn't understand was why she wasn't moving, if she was, indeed, a hen and not some dark colored plastic bag that blew under the bush. I willed my eyes to focus and soon could make out her little orange legs. She was a hen alright.
I bundled up and headed outside with a container of scraps. I tried my darnedest to lure her back to the hen house, but she wanted no part of leaving her bush. Only six or so feet away, I finally spotted Merv (our rooster) standing completely still under a different nearby bush. Uh oh. This could mean trouble (not for me, for my chickens).
So, I left them where they obviously wanted to be and walked up to the chicken yard. There were no chickens to be seen or heard anywhere. My heart skipped a beat as I looked over by the chicken run at a gigantic hawk sitting atop a dead hen just outside the run.
I chased him off and he slowly lumbered up into the air and sat on a branch of our huge black walnut tree above the chicken house. He wasn't finished eating. Once I was out in the yard calling, our chickens began answering from all over the place. I could hear some safe and sound in the hen house and others out in the yard huddled under brush piles and bushes everywhere. The hawk flew off to another tree farther away and I ran inside and got Sam and Sadie (Miriam was asleep).
At the very top of the tree in the center sits the culprit.
The three of us spent a good part of an hour coaxing all our shaken chickens from their hiding spots and into the hen house. One sweet hen in particular was hunkered down head first, deep under a brush pile. We tried everything to coax her out. I didn't want to leave her there because I was afraid she'd come out later when the hawk was back (I couldn't stand watch the rest of the day) and he'd get her as well. I gently prodded her with my broom and finally, she turned around enough to get a look at me and once she did she gladly came out. I guess I sound like a hawk, but don't look like one.
We got all but a few back in and I shut the doors. The ones that were left were in sheds, way in behind things making it very difficult for me to reach them. Jamey rounded up the stragglers when he got home and took care of the carcass. We're leaving the chickens shut in for a few days.
The whole rest of the day, I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know the hawk was just being a hawk, but I had been going about my merry way oblivious to the dangers that exist for our fine feathered friends. I felt unprepared and even a tad embarrassed that the whole incident surprised me at all. I do live in the country. And, I do know about the food chain. For some reason, it's okay for us to be a part of the chain, but I don't want to share the chain with others.
I'm not oblivious anymore and I'm afraid to leave the hens out again. Maybe time will take this feeling in the pit of my stomach away. I hope so because I really don't like it. Pin It