Sad Goodbye to Some Pet Chickens

A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!




We had some sadness around here last week.
Here's the heartrending story
and what these plucky little gals taught me...


Two of our beautiful backyard hens 
were taken by a coyote -- 

in broad daylight, no less.

We did not get fancy with their names
when we brought them home 21 weeks ago.
We called them Buff, Red, Lacy and Gertrude.

Having never kept chickens before,
I had no idea I'd love them SO much!


A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

I handled these little cuties daily since
bringing them home
as hatchlings.

Buff in particular was a sweetie.
She loved to cuddle!
I'd pick her up and she'd snuggle 
right into my neck and nestle there, 
making contented little sounds.
She did that even when she got big.


A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

Red liked being petted.
She was friendly and social. 
She would come running for love and attention,
and she was our very first egg-layer of the crew
...but she was not a cuddler.

Both chickens got along well
with their coop mates,
a lacy wyandotte and a plymouth barred rock
whose names are Lacy and Gertrude respectively.

Gertrude was given a real name
...but that story will come later.

The girls are kept in a coop with an 
added covered fenced-in area.
For a portion of the day when
we're home, they are allowed to roam
in the yard to forage for bugs and grasses.
They LOVE that!

A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

We are aware there are all kinds of wildlife
in these parts. Coyotes included.
You can see some photos in
posts on that here and here.

But what I read said coyotes and 
most other predators hunt at
night, and around dawn and dusk.

I got home after my hubby that day
and called for my chicks.
They always come running 
for some lovin when I call.

Nobody came.
Hmmm... strange.

I went inside and said something to hubby.
We went outside and I called again.
This time Lacy came flying straight toward us.
She had never flown that far and fast before.

She got to the patio and seemed fine.
Lacy is the Diva of the group and though 
she's a sweetie she does not like to be touched.
She occasionally wanders from the group.
She seemed ok, but she started
cackling loudly.


A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

"That's right, Lacy," I joked. "Call your sisters in!"

I decided to get her rounded back into her coop and then got to doing a chore back inside.
I didn't realize that hubby went out 
and strolled the perimeter.
When he came back inside, the look on his face
made me feel like I would throw up.

"They're gone," he said, head bowed.

I just stood there trying to process it.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"They're gone," he repeated softly. "Something got them."

I paused in shock for a moment.

"WHAT??? All of them??? Noooo!!!!" I cried. 
"You've got to show me now!"

He took me to a pile of feathers
and I knew right away it was Red.
The feathers of her beautiful little "skirt" were
spread across the grass and in the creek.

I wept bitterly.  

Walking toward the creek, 
I spotted some of the striped feathers
that were the delicate semi plume of Gertrude. 

I cried harder.

A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

Picking up some feathers and
trying to survey the area through my tears, I said,
"But this is only Red and Gertrude.
Buff's feathers are not in here!"

My hubby looked doubtful, but
I immediately started combing the area, 
calling for Buff.

We walked and walked. 

And then hubby pointed near a log.

Buff's feathers.

No.

My heart literally ached.
Three out of the four of my girls gone.

I wept openly, not caring if a neighbor heard.
I loved those beautiful, funny, interesting, 
charming little birds.
As much as I've loved my cats or dogs.
Really.
Chickens can do that for you.

Maybe not if you keep them
in huge flocks on factory farms.

But if you keep them and nurture them
in small numbers so that
you really get to know them and their ways,
so that you appreciate with every fiber
of your being the eggs they so generously give 
and the personality each one so clearly displays...
if you do that, they will
steal. your. heart.

Sobbing, I started walking
the ground to see if there were
anything else. 
All we had seen were feathers.

And now I felt the anger rising up.

"How could it take ALL THREE??!!" I sobbed.
"How GREEDY!!! I just can't believe it.
How GREEDY!" I repeated.

My hubby just quietly and sympathetically
walked next to me.

We came back around to the
chicken coop,
and a part of my brain saw it
even as I registered that
my husband was pausing in wonder...

I looked where he was looking....

Gertrude.

Gertrude!!

Standing dazed between the rake and the coop, 
there was Gertrude, blending in
beautifully with the rake.

I breathed in with gratitude.

Mindful not to scare her by moving
too quickly, I said in a gentle, soothing tone:
"Gerty... Hi girl."
I knelt down and she walked toward me.

A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

I looked at hubby.
"It took me a minute to really believe what I was seeing," he said.  "It was like seeing a ghost or something."

I nodded and gently ushered our
girl into the covered fenced yard, checking her as best I could.

Definitely some feathers missing from
her breast. One wing drooped forlornly. 
Lacy came over to gently cluck
and reassure Gerty.  It was really
Lacy that helped bring Gerty out of her shock.

As I saw them interact and
saw Lacy encourage Gerty to do
her chicken things, like walk
the coop and get some water,
I saw Gertrude settle back into herself.
I did some gentle healing touch
with her and she enjoyed it.
She started acting more like herself again.

But it was starting to get late,
and the girls were tired.
I prayed she was not internally injured
and that she'd make it,
and put them to bed.

Thinking about the scene of their demise,
I noted that there were comparatively fewer of Gertrude's feathers.
I thought maybe I had seen fewer of Buff's feathers, too. So I walked the area again calling for Buff. But when I made the rounds and 
looked near the log again
I saw that I was wishful thinking.
There were just too many feathers.

I focused on my gratitude
for having Gertrude back.

My anger began to dissolve as I thought
about the amazing coyote I encountered years ago...
about all the coyote pictures I've seen...
about their pups...

I know this is just nature's way.


A heartrending story of the loss and survival of pet backyard chickens to a predator and what they taught their caretaker. Can you love a pet chicken similar to a pet cat or dog? You'll see the answer is: most definitely! | Story at I Gotta Create!

Our wildlife cam recorded a coyote 
on our property that day.
We will change some of what we're doing
with our flock.

We know
there are no guarantees.


I reflected on the several losses 
in our families recently,
and upon the love and open heartedness
that make a loss keenly felt.

But, oh the joy 
of a loving and open heart!

Buff and Red:
Thank you for teaching us that
chickens can nuzzle,
that they love to do the 
chicken scratch dance,
that they purr ecstatically when taking a dirt bath,
that they are very sensitive and attuned
social creatures, 
and that
you can love a chicken
like any other pet.

To Buff and Red.


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