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