We haven't had much luck this spring with our chickens. They seemed to have gotten lax about staying close to their protectors. Even though we have enough girls to go around for both Mr. Roo and Gru, boys will be boys. One gets irritated at the other and the fighting begins. It's quite comical to watch. They chase each other all around the house, then stop to stare at each other...put on a little cock fight scene and then continue about the day. But unfortunately, while they are doing what they are doing the girls tend to separate and wonder in different directions.
I decided the other morning that before I had to pick Cooper up from the bus I would let the chickens out. It was sunny, warm and absolutely beautiful. I wanted them all to be able to stretch their wings and eat some grass and bugs and enjoy themselves. Little did I know it was going to be a fatal mistake.
When I picked Cooper up from the bus I decided we needed to go to the grocery store. Now I don't usually let the chickens out to free range unless I'm home...but like I said before it was gorgeous out. I have done it before, just not regularly. And I wouldn't be gone for more then an hour. Tops!
Coop and I went on our way, did our shopping and were home within that time. I did my usual routine by leaving Cooper to watch his DVD in the car (i know...bad mom) while I unloaded the groceries. Unloading groceries in my house is a step by step process. It's never easy...or stress free for that matter. It goes a little something like this:
Groceries go from car to inside garage doorway into house
Then Cooper gets out of car and goes inside..(all while I'm yelling at him not to sit on the groceries to take his shoes off)
I proceed to take my shoes off to go inside...(all while I'm yelling at Cooper not to pick up the heavy bags that are filled with glass or gallon containers)
Then I take the groceries (you know how it is...with as little trips as possible so you weigh yourself down with as many bags as possible) to the kitchen...(all the while I'm yelling at Cooper not to do the same)
oh ya, the reason I'm writing this blog...so anyway...as I'm walking past our living room which the windows face the back of our property I notice a pile of feathers. White feathers. I stop. I put down my bags and run to the window. The pile of feathers were not 15 ft from the house. Right next to our bird feeders. Then I look off to the left and I notice another pile of white feathers...and yet another. I run out our back door and I can't find my chickens anywhere. Then I heard them in the coop. Now in my mind I was trying to work out whose feathers they were. We only had two white chickens. Eve (which is my daughters baby) and Eve's hatch-ling named Luna. That's when I ran to the coop. At that point I didn't even care how many chickens were missing. I just wanted to know...needed to know..........NO!!!...NOT POOR Eve!!! I saw Luna roosting on the post and knew right then and there that it had been Eve. Of all the f'n chickens, it had to be my daughters baby. The little yellow chick my daughter cared for and played with everyday. The chick that started growing in white feathers that made my daughter immediately name her Eve after her favorite Pixar character from WALL-E. The sweet affectionate hen that would stand next to my daughter and wait for a treat of worms while she collected them in her bucket. The one that layed a gorgeous large light brown egg for us everyday.
I was speechless. My mouth probably hung open for some time as I walked to the pile of feathers. Then to the other pile and then the other.
I came to the conclusion that she was first taken at the feeders, then she must have gotten loose and ran to where her second pile lay. Then got loose again and darted to the brush line where she was caught for the final time. The third pile of feathers trailed off into the woods. At that point my jaw finally closed, and if I was a cartoon character steam would've come out of my ears. I yelled into the woods "you fucking piece of shit, I will fucking kill you if I have the chance"!! Was that a little extreme, I thought? Hope my neighbors weren't watching. But then I turned around and saw my son standing on the patio..."Mommy?... Fox eat chicken?... Mommy?...Fox in woods?... Mommy?... Eve?"
My heart sank as it hit me that my poor daughter will be scampering off the bus in a few hours with a huge smile on her face, and I was going to have to break her heart. My poor little six year old girl is going to experience her first feeling of loss. At that point I started to tear up. Walking back to the house Cooper just stared at me. "Mommy? Eve gone?" "Yes honey, Eve is gone. The fox took her." And I guess when he saw me tearing he realized something. What exactly, I guess I'll never know. Does a three year old understand that something is gone and never coming back? But at that moment he hugged onto my leg and looked up at me and said, "ok mommy? I love you mommy. No cry mommy..be happy mommy." Which of course made me blubber even more.
So we went inside and Cooper was so cooperative after that. He did his part in putting away the groceries. Helped make his lunch and went down for a nap without resistance. I took my camera and took pics of the crime scene and decided to collect some of the feathers and put them in a ziploc bag to have a family burial service later. I thought that it may help Payton have closure in some way.
I sat on the couch constantly looking at my watch waiting for the dreadful time to come. When it came, I got in my car and drove down to the pick up point. It felt like eternity. Watched pot(watch)never boils(ticks). I tried to think of the best way and time to tell her. I decided that I would not tell her in the car and I would wait till we got in the house. The bus finally came and like I said before, down the bus stairs she came with her flowing dress, sunglasses and a huge smile plastered on her face. She got in the car and back to the house we went. I asked how her day was and if she was hungry for a snack. Had our normal getting back to the house conversation. I closed the garage door and Payton opened the door to the house. I didn't think anything of it until Payton said "hi Cooper"! Oh shit! What if Cooper blurts it out first. Damn it!! I forgot that my now three year old is the biggest blabber mouth! I grabbed Payton's hand and told her I wanted to talk to her. Her immediate response was, "I didn't do anything!". (geez. guilty conscience. we'll have to address that at a later time) "No, you did not do anything. Payton, something bad happened today. I let the chickens out this morning and then Cooper and I went to the grocery store. When we were gone a fox must've come onto our property when he saw the chickens were out by themselves." Ok, at this point her mouth opened a little. Ok, Jen...deep breath...you can do this...don't start crying yet...damn it! "Payton, the fox got Eve". "I am so so sorry." Well, she just stood there, what felt like forever, just staring at me. Then I noticed that her eyes started welling up. And then the monsoon hit. She just kept repeating Eve's name in between her uncontrollable violent sobs. I lost it. I just sobbed with her, hugging her, holding her, wanting to take the pain away from her. Then she turned and walked over to the window where the remnants of the crime scene still lingered. Shit! I thought to myself..I should've tried to get rid of all of the feathers. But then again, I think she needed to see them too. Help her realize what it all actually meant. Poor Cooper was just sitting on the couch staring at us. Then the sweetest words came from his mouth. "Payton? Cooper sorry Eve gone. Bad fox in woods. Cooper want Payton to be happy". Ok, more sobbing continued. And Cooper actually got off the couch and wrapped his arms around his sister to give her a big hug and kiss. Um...melt my heart a little more!
Anyway, after about 40 min Payton calmed down, but she just kept looking outside. Then the denial came. "Well, maybe Eve will come back". "Maybe she just ran away". "Maybe, maybe, maybe". Then the anger set in..."Well, where were Mr. Roo and Gru"? "Why didn't they protect her"? "Why did you let them out"? "You know the fox live in the woods"!
Just lay the guilt on...I can take it =o(
So the evening went on and we went out to play. Surprisingly both Payton and Cooper started collecting the rest of the feathers. They actually picked up almost every little feather. And put all of them in the ziploc. As of yet though, we have not buried them because it has been a different kind of monsoon lately. The rains have been relentless. Our property is just muddy and squishy. Kind of like our moods that terrible day.
Last Wednesday Jason and I purchased 300 ft of fencing material and began to build a 72" high enclosure for our chickens. We're hoping that it will at least deter the fox from coming in. The chickens will have plenty of room to run, eat bugs and grass and the roosters can continue to be boys. They will only be allowed to free range when we are home and outside. No other time.
It has been almost 2 weeks since the incident and Payton is doing fine. She still talks about Eve and how she misses her, but no more tears. But she does think that Luna misses her mom. It's strange because you almost feels like we're going to see her pop out of the woods one day and say "here I am", but I know it's not so.
Ugh!! Who would've thought that chickens would become like family.
We miss you!
We miss you!