animal kingdom / DAILY FARM LIFE / life on thomas run

The final count

the final count

I almost didn't write this post this morning, for fear I might win some award for Internet's Most Depressing Blog. But since you've all been on this journey with me, I can't help but share it with all of you.

Saturday night, we lost all our chickens, but two, to a fox. The fox took a guinea the night before, and so Saturday night Dan and I got out to lock in the hens in what we thought was plenty of time. It was dusk. When I stepped out onto the porch I could hear the commotion. I ran back inside to get my big, heavy Mag flashlight,  (What I was going to do with it, I have no idea. I'm not that brave.) And called up to Dan, who was snuggling the girls, in my most "calm, but I need you right away" voice.

He jumped into boots and tore off across the yard. I jumped in the car and raced into the second driveway so I could shine my headlights on the coop. We were too late.

We scared the fox off, but she'd left a battle field in the grass around the coop. It was devastating.

I honestly can't get over this one so easily. I try not to think that this is all my fault. That there they were, nestled in their coop, just waiting for me to lock them in safely for the night. That if I hadn't done this or that, dilly-dallying before I went out to lock them in, I would have gotten there in time. I feel like I'm failing as a "farmer", with all this loss we've been experiencing lately.

I try not to think that these are the hens that my grandmother gave to my girls.

Dan comforts me saying that if it wasn't Saturday night, it would have been Sunday, or Monday, or….that this kind of thing happens to all farmers. That it's not a reflection of what kind of caretaker I am. But still. It's hard. And sad. I loved those stupid chickens.

I don't know where I'll go from here. I don't think I'm up for another round of chicks in my downstairs bathroom right now. Dan wants to buy some grown hens from my uncle, to keep our last two girls company. One of our hens hasn't even come out of the coop since this all happened. I feel like I want things to settle down before we bring more chickens into our apparent "take out diner" for foxes.

We'll see. I'm sure more hens will be here someday soon.

Meanwhile, if you want to ignore the above post and move on, I busied my mind over the weekend with some blog remodeling–a new banner, new sidebar stuff, and I brought back the short list of good things. So, if you feel like moving on, why not click over and let me know what you think of the new look.

And I promise, less depressing posts the rest of the week.

As always, thanks for listening and following along on this journey.

{photo coutesy of katie pertiet}

the final count

I almost didn't write this post this morning, for fear I might win some award for Internet's Most Depressing Blog. But since you've all been on this journey with me, I can't help but share it with all of you.

Saturday night, we lost all our chickens, but two, to a fox. The fox took a guinea the night before, and so Saturday night Dan and I got out to lock in the hens in what we thought was plenty of time. It was dusk. When I stepped out onto the porch I could hear the commotion. I ran back inside to get my big, heavy Mag flashlight,  (What I was going to do with it, I have no idea. I'm not that brave.) And called up to Dan, who was snuggling the girls, in my most "calm, but I need you right away" voice.

He jumped into boots and tore off across the yard. I jumped in the car and raced into the second driveway so I could shine my headlights on the coop. We were too late.

We scared the fox off, but she'd left a battle field in the grass around the coop. It was devastating.

I honestly can't get over this one so easily. I try not to think that this is all my fault. That there they were, nestled in their coop, just waiting for me to lock them in safely for the night. That if I hadn't done this or that, dilly-dallying before I went out to lock them in, I would have gotten there in time. I feel like I'm failing as a "farmer", with all this loss we've been experiencing lately.

I try not to think that these are the hens that my grandmother gave to my girls.

Dan comforts me saying that if it wasn't Saturday night, it would have been Sunday, or Monday, or….that this kind of thing happens to all farmers. That it's not a reflection of what kind of caretaker I am. But still. It's hard. And sad. I loved those stupid chickens.

I don't know where I'll go from here. I don't think I'm up for another round of chicks in my downstairs bathroom right now. Dan wants to buy some grown hens from my uncle, to keep our last two girls company. One of our hens hasn't even come out of the coop since this all happened. I feel like I want things to settle down before we bring more chickens into our apparent "take out diner" for foxes.

We'll see. I'm sure more hens will be here someday soon.

Meanwhile, if you want to ignore the above post and move on, I busied my mind over the weekend with some blog remodeling–a new banner, new sidebar stuff, and I brought back the short list of good things. So, if you feel like moving on, why not click over and let me know what you think of the new look.

And I promise, less depressing posts the rest of the week.

As always, thanks for listening and following along on this journey.

{photo coutesy of katie pertiet}

65 comments on “The final count”

  1. Oh mama…I just posted about our loss this morning. So sorry to hear about yours. But know that I am right there with you. Thinking, rethinking. Why doesn’t loss ever get any easier to deal with…even if we are talking about chickens and ducks.

    Big hugs to you.

  2. we’ve been there…dog, fisher cat, even a hawk. it happens. and it stinks, but don’t beat yourself up.when i was a little girl my grandfather raised chickens. he was quite well-known in the poultry world. shows etc. but people used to tease him because he had very intricate locks and latches on his coops. but he dealt with coons and very sly foxes. he knew. give it time. sending out a hug. xx i like the new arrangement here 🙂

  3. molly. molly molly molly. i don’t even know what else to say. if it wasn’t this crazy week, i’d be right over with brownies. (i’ll keep them for you for wednesday instead.) big big hugs.

  4. so, so sorry to hear about your loss. it is not a reflection of your farmer skills. there’s a reason “sly as a fox” is part of our vernacular. hugs to you and the whole family.

  5. All I can say is “awe…sorry to hear that”…we have chickens and our dog killed one. SOmething (we now suspect our puppy) killed the one that was hatched from our broody hen. The birds are so sweet. My husband really enjoys them. He’s fortified their pen and we don’t let them free range around the house…they have a big pen and hen house behind our barn. Here’s to more chicks for you…a light in the hen house should work…we did it in the old kids little tykes pool in the barn w/a light…

  6. Aww! sorry about that Molly! He would have gotten them though sooner or later, they are shifty.Do you think he is the one who got your kitty too?

    I like your new look.

  7. So sad. Foxes are one of the reasons I am resisting the constant ‘Can we have chickens mummy?’ pleas.Give those girls of yours a hug from us.Especially those two survivors.

  8. I’m so sorry. I’ve been wanting to get some of my own (maybe guineas) for ages and this is definitely one of my concerns. Your posts always give me something to think about and this one is no exception.

  9. Sorry to hear your news…I’ve heard from so many people who have kept chickens how senseless it is when a fox attacks. You are certainly not alone. ((hugs))

  10. There is loss when farming. My neighbors run one of the oldest CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture) in the country. Last year they got dozens of new chicks. Everyone was excited, and some member families even nurtured a few of them in their own homes early on. Just as they were all brought back to the farm, a fisher cat got into the barn and killed EVERY SINGLE CHICK. It was devastating. These were experienced farmers with a great facility. Lessons were learned, and the farm community continues. I am so sorry for what happened to you. I hope you can come to a place of peace about it.

  11. oh man. I am so so sorry. Isn’t it odd, how we get so attached to those girls? I’d be devastated if we lost ours, too (and we did lose two as chicks to our dog). I think I’ll feel more confident after they make it through the summer heat. Maribeth is right though – it really is part of farming. My sister in law lost most of her flock to a wild animal and after some recouping time, she’s back to full chicken capacity.

    Hugs to all of you, friend.

  12. This post breaks my heart. We just got our first backyard chickens, and while we live in the city and I don’t *think* we have any foxes, I know there are other predators out there (including our dog!) and it terrifies me. I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. I am so very sorry that this has happened to you and your family. I hate it. But please know that we read you because we care about you….good or bad. Do not think you have to post certain things to keep your readers.

  14. Oh man! Sorry about the chickens. I would be pretty sad, too. I don’t think it has anything to do with your farmer skills, it’s just farm life. Glad you’re going to give it another go with more chickens.

  15. I love the new look and the Good Things list. So much good info. I’m so sorry about your chickens. We’ve been there, too. Last month a fox got every single one of my family’s ducks. So sad– I had the same “if only” thoughts.

  16. oh, I am so sorry for your loss.it must be difficult to lose a part of your family, even if they are chickens.but- do not let yourself take the blame. your husband is right- it could have happened any night.just know, your blog is great inspiration to me. thank you for your honesty- blog life isn’t always about the happiness.

  17. I grew up on a farm and I think it taught me well the impermanence of things. Cherish them while you have them. Sorry about your chickens, farming is definitely not an easy or simple life!

  18. 🙁 I’m sorry. Loss is loss… the kind of creature hardly matters.Hoping that Dan’s words start to resonate for you… you are good on the farm, and what you are doing is so so good for your family.

    Peace

  19. My heart goes out to you. What a rough couple of months you’ve had. And please don’t feel bad for writing about it here. It is all part of life, and we are here to rejoice with you and mourn with you.

  20. oh, so sorry! we had chickens years ago and i loved them too, so much. we never had a critter attack them, but the coop door fell on top of the one that was my favorite, a little bantam that would even sit on my shoulder. such a sad discovery for me.

    don’t worry molly, i have no doubt at all that you are a most excellent chicken mommy. hope your feeling better very soon, xo.

  21. My parents have lost 20 odd chickens to a fox as well. My dad finally set traps and when they caught it… it was a mama fox with very full teats. My mom and I cried and cried over the dead mama fox and where were the babies and she was only killing chickens to feed her family, wahhhh!

    Sometimes I just hate nature.

  22. Arg. I am so sorry about the hens. I lost a couple of mine a few years ago to raccoons. Don’t give up, I did and I can not wait to move to a bigger yard so I can rebuild the flock.

  23. chickens taken by varmints are heart breakers… I think it’s happened to all of us chicken lovers out there. I hope you are ALL ok and that more chicky goodness graces your life soon.

  24. i’m sorry too. i love your chickens from afar and can only imagine that you witness life, death and everything in between as farmers. still.

    go gently.

  25. I am sorry too, Molly. I understand so completely…a few days ago, our beautiful black birds hatched three beautiful chicks. The next day, a magpie came and killed them all. It was horrific and bloody and most of all sad. The blackbirds lamented for 2 days and we couldn’t bear to go into the garden. They weren’t our blackbirds, but they were our blackbirds.

  26. oh no. this is hard. but you’re completely right- this happens to all farmers. that is the hard thing about raising your own food, i think. as city girls, all animals we’ve ever owned are pets. we have to get to that place that allows us to separate from the animals a bit. to know that their purpose is food.

    and man…that’s really hard. i’m not there yet…

  27. Molly,I am so sorry about your sweet little chicks! Something just reminded me of “Chester,” our goldfish. 🙂

  28. Oh, this post sits so aptly with me at the moment. The other morning I was driving along with my bird loving 13 year old son when we saw a teeny tiny little duckling running along the side of the road. At first I thought I’d hit it, but when I stopped, I could see it behind me in the grass…then it ran out onto the road again. My son jumped out and after chasing it for a bit managed to pick it up and put it in his t-shirt pocket. There were no ducks around, and we feared if we left it, it would be road kill, so we brought it home. It was the sweetest little duck. You know this story isn’t going to end well, but for two nights we kept him. he ran around my son’s room and all the kids looked after him so well. We had a lamp on him to keep him warm, we gave him water and managed to get little bits of food into him. The idea was to grow him up a bit and then put him out on the pond we live on. There are usually ducks around. But it got really cold suddenly last night and we haven’t had the heat on in the house for months. And I guess it was just too much for the little chap. Sorry to take up your blog with my own sad story, but it really does help to share. I’m so sorry that you lost your chickens. Nature is hard and heartless, sometimes. Big hugs to you.

  29. molly, my dogs ate half of my first round of chickens. I was sickened. But they were labs, and chickens are birds, and nature is both beautiful and cruel. Thinking of you, friend.

  30. I’m sorry. 🙁 We get attached to our animals and we are their caretakers. Our neighbors do some urban homesteading and I can tell you from our experience that Dan is right. If not one night, it would be another–If not a fox it would be a dog, or…etc.It’s still tough.

  31. So sorry to hear about your recent losses, Molly – you guys have been through a tough time the last few weeks. I’m thinking about you – may you feel the Lord’s nearness. Take care.

  32. This is so sad. I’d been hoping by some miracle, that your cat would return too. Life with animals really brings our tender vulnerability to the surface – such joy and comfort, and such pain as well. It is a joy to me to read of such caring farmers- don’t let it stop you.

  33. Ohhh, 🙁 that IS sad. I’m so sorry. Your blog looks awesome by the way. Whenenver I remember and head over here I feel like I’m visiting an old friend. I love checking in here, think I’ll be coming more often.

  34. I am so, so sorry to hear this. Such a devastating thing to happen on too many levels. I know it was painful to share but still appreciate that you did.

    To change the subject, are all your kittens spoken for already? (Not virtually, but in reality? 🙂 )

  35. I’m sorry, Molly. That must be hard. Farming is NOT easy. I never really thought about it much until my mom married a farmer. Hard work.

  36. Farming can provide the pleasure of an extremely close relationship with the living & growing cycles of the plants and animals that we nurture. The grim reality is that we also must deal with illness & loss. I cry every time something furry or feathered perishes, but then I quietly bury it under a small shrub or tree to let it nourish a new lifeform. I hope that after your grieving you will find the courage & strength to keep on cluckin’.

  37. Oh hon! I’m just so sorry. Those chickens do make their way into our hearts! I know how hard that loss is, all too well, and it just makes me so sad to know that you and your girls are going through it. Big hugs to you!

  38. So sorry to hear about your chickens. I don’t thinks it’s silly to love those stupid chickens…I mean, what’s not to love. Sounds like fox hunting season to me!

  39. i’m so very sorry for the loss of your lovely ladies (as we call my parents’ chickens). this post made me heart hurt for you and your girls. you are a darn good farmer, foxes be damned.

  40. It is so hard, and I’m sorry. We get rather attached to our chickens, and we’ve lost some too. Our first three we lost to neighborhood dogs, because the chicken wire wasn’t strong enough. Yup, I beat myself up about that. Then we lost one to chicken stupidity–she crawled under a hay bale and couldn’t find her way out. I blamed myself for not looking for her harder. The thing is, keeping chickens means so much more to me than keeping chickens–it’s about trying self-sufficiency and making a little farm-ish home–that it’s extra disheartening when I lose one. So again, I’m sorry to hear about your flock.

  41. Hi Molly –

    I read your blog a lot, but have never commentedso, hi! 🙂

    I know Paula already mentioned this – but I have a friend who’s mother has had chickens for years and years. After reading your story, I asked her how her mother keeps her chickens safe. I know you love your chickens to peck around your yard – but she said that her father built a large, fenced in pen connected to their coop. The fence is probably 6 ft. high, and provides another barrier of safety from animals that might hurt them. They too shut their chickens in the coop at night, but she said they’ve had great luck with having that extra protection for them as the fox (or other animal) would have to get through the fence first. I just thought you might be interested in what other folks do to protect their chickens. 🙂

    So sorry for your loss.

  42. I grew up with chickens and we would lose only one at a timebut as a great biomimicry scientist said you have two options:1. start war with the foxesor2. just raise more hens

    i like number two, as much as that sounds like putting yourself up for major disappointment again, you are also feeding the native fox, after all doesn’t she too deserve a little love

  43. that is so sad. Don’t feel alone though…I cried over a brood of baby fish with everyone else laughing at me.Get some more chickens and start tucking them in a bit earlier…..:-)

  44. Oh, God…I just found your blog tonight, and have found so much to love here, but this story?? This was MY story this spring (except for the chickens-from-grandma part) and oh, how I feel your pain. We lost nearly twenty birds this spring to a (gorgeous) family of foxes living under and around one of our barns, and we’re now starting winter with just one rooster and two poor little hens. I couldn’t bear to bring in more chicks this summer; I will wait til next spring and try to figure out a more secure set up so that we don’t get to live through quite so much carnage again. Keeping chickens (I’ve only done it for 2.5 years) is great at teaching you to deal with death without flinching (not to say without feeling) but so much at once is just a lot to bear. I’m so sorry about the birds, and so glad to have found you!

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