I put off things. I especially put off writing about unpleasant things. Like writing about my chickens. They are dead. Mostly. There is no sense in going about sugar-coating the grim fact of it all. All but one. 12 of 13 dead and gone.
The Man went out to care for our brood months ago and there was nothing left of our precious flock. Not one. Oh, The Man was angry. Spit fire and venom. He discovered a hole under the door, nearly the same as last year. Upon further inspection, he unearthed a clever little den. Under our chicken coop! As fate would have it, the feet of one dead chicken were visible within. Angrily, The Man yanked the carcass away. “Not this one! You won’t get this one!” he steamed.
It was then that he caught a glimpse of a small badger. Small. Meaning, surely there were more. I think I saw smoke fizzle out of his ears and from each flared nostril.
The Man waited until evening. He disappeared into the black with the dog and his shotgun. Nothing. The next day, we found one traumatized (but seemingly healthy) hen hiding in the tall grass. The girls call her Clover, for she is a very lucky girl.
So we have a badger problem. (And The Man is still pretty steamed about it.) And ultimately I had one very lonely chicken who did not have any interest in laying an egg.
Twenty-two chickens lost. One survivor.
What. To. Do.
I was fearful of again free-ranging that brave bird so we cooped her up in the barn, making sure she got plenty of sunlight during the day. The Man was still miffed at the badgers and the whole chicken situation in general. He refused to spend another penny on anything to do with chickens. Without chicken feed, I set to work to spoil that chicken rotten. All I wanted was one egg. ONE. EGG. For our two years of hard work. Every day, Peanut and I worked together in the kitchen to concoct he most wonderful things for her: melon scraps, seeds, oats, strawberry tops, corn meal, etc.
And, wonder of wonders, that girl eventually laid an egg. And kept on laying them! Twenty-two chickens and we finally had a handful of farm-fresh eggs.
But sickness hit the homestead. Really hard. All six of us. We tried to give Clover away. We did not really know what to do with her. So at some point during our week-long family illness (we share everything) The Man sneaked out to the barn and set her free. He figured she could take better care of herself than we could at that point.
Was he crazy? Or right?
Continue reading the series here:
Or you can read more about the demise of last year’s flock here: Counting Chickens.
Anyone else have the same wonderful luck with chickens that we do? I would love to hear about it (and maybe commiserate just a bit). Comment below!
Love & Coffee.