Lesson 1300 – This one is unbearable

I don’t even know how to begin this one.

Let me start by saying this has been the most horrible summer we’ve had since we started having chickens 6 years ago. It’s been brutal. I seriously haven’t shed so many tears for our flock as I have in the last few days.

You know that our flock was attacked the other night, all 3 of this year’s chicks were killed and a hen from last year’s chicks was seriously wounded (she’s still alive and being cared for.)

Before that attack, our hen Rudd was almost decapitated by a predator. There is only one animal that attacks its prey by decapitating it, and that’s a fisher.

Which is why I wasn’t sure if a fisher had actually attacked our flock the other night. Sure 3 were dead but there were no visible signs of attack.

But yesterday I finally figured out what was going on. Our neighbor came over and as he stood at our front door he told me that one of our chickens was in his back yard.

I thought it was odd he was telling me this for two reasons:

While our chickens have gone in their front yard, they have *never* gone in their back yard, it’s just too far away.

I have talked to them about our chicken and have offered to coop them all the time if having chickens in their yard bothered them – they said it didn’t, in fact they liked it.

So why was he telling me about one of our chickens in his backyard now?

And then he said “something got it.”

Heartbeat. Ah. You mean a dead chicken of ours is on your back yard.

I went with him across the street.

Soon I saw some feathers. White. Please let it not be Zelda.

As I reached the side of his yard and looked down, I saw a trail, then a bunch of feathers and in the middle a carcass.

Please, please, please, I whispered as I approached the pile.

It was Zelda, identified by her leg band.

Zelda, our 6+ year old member of the flock. The hen that gave us our very first egg. The hen who was recently highlighted in Backyard Poultry magazine for being transgender. She was a lovely Easter Egger who started displaying male characteristics. She started looking like a rooster but for some reason she turned back into a hen (with completely different covering.) She was a mystery, she was a marvel.

She was our Zelda.

Her head had been pulled off and she was eviscerated. A fisher cat had gotten her. An adult fisher cat who was probably teaching her kits how to hunt (I now think it was the unexperienced kits who attacked our flock the other night.)

My beautiful, beautiful Zelda was gone.

I kept apologizing to my neighbor, I’m so sorry this happened in your yard,

He kept apologizing to me – I’m so sorry this happened to your chicken.

We were both a bit of a mess.

In the last week, we’ve lost 4 chickens and 1 is still in critical care. It stinks, it really stinks.

But yesterday we lost our beloved Zelda. – Zelda.

If anyone doubts that chickens can’t work their way into your heart, I invite them to spend time with our grieving family. Zelda is gone and with her, she took a little bit of all of our hearts.

zelda white


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs

19 responses to “Lesson 1300 – This one is unbearable

  1. How very painful… I am so sorry for your loss!!

  2. I’m sorry about Zelda and the for how this effects the rest of your flock, feathered and not.

  3. Please know that you have my deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved Zelda. We are all grieving with you.

  4. I’m so sorry, Wendy. Zelda is a hero … I’m sure she got right up in that fisher’s face and defended the flock ❤

  5. Linda Lee Bickford

    Fly free sweet Zelda ❤
    Having home chickens sure isn't always idyllic, but often a constant fight against predators. I can't blame people who give up, I sometimes have that feeling that we aren't doing enough to protect them.
    In the end, I know we do our best to protect them and we love our community of chickens here. At this point I don't think we could ever go back and buy store eggs, plus we'd have a lot of unhappy customers that we supply as well.
    So sorry Wendy, don't give up ❤

  6. My heart hurts for you. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and my prayers.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about Zelda. Poor girl. We’ve had some close calls with our rooster going after new hens (he’s now separated), but we’ve been lucky and not lost any yet. I know it would be devastating if we ever do.

  8. Mary Ellen Rice

    So sorry about Zelda. I’ve lost two hens this Summer, my pretty, Penny and Garnet. Penny had a growth inside, but was not in pain, ate well and seemed to be enjoying life. Then she just went downhill all of a sudden. Garnet, just went down suddenly and was gone. Maybe, our girls will meet up and chase bugs together.

  9. Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)

    I am so, so sorry, Wendy. How lucky Zelda was to have you in her life, and you to have her in yours. Thank you for sharing her with us. Sending you hugs.

  10. Please know that you are not alone, a hard summer for me as well… I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers 😦

  11. Sally Carruthers

    So sorry to hear about Zelda. Sending you love and a hug.

  12. glynnis

    Wendy, I have tears in my eyes. I have chickens, ones who have worked their way into my heart. I am so very very sorry. If it’s any comfort at all, Zelda will live on so much more than most chickens in all your fans’ hearts and memories as well as you and your family. Sending heartfelt condolences.

  13. Ane

    i seem to be subscribed twice. Pls remove one of my email addresses. Tks😍

  14. lscheuer

    Wendy, I do understand. And I’m so sorry…. Hugs.

  15. So so sorry. What an awful summer. Your chickens have amazing lives and live so well when they are with you- so sorry about the recent events…

  16. rachel thomas

    I’m so very sorry to hear of your losses. Sending the biggest hugs xxx

  17. When raising chickens it is a good idea not to get attached. My sister has been raiding them for over 20 years. Twice she has lost her entire flock in a single night. Both times it was a pack of stray dogs. Three to four dogs. She now keeps two dogs, a large hound type and a sheepdog. One dog needs to be a rodent killer. She has found Rhodesian Ridgebacks to be the best for running off stray dog packs which are usually pit mixes. She keep two flocks, one cooped and one not. She has not had stray dog or coyote issues since she’s had the Ridgeback.

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