We had a very exciting night....
Someone (me) forgot to secure the chicken coop.
|Hug Your Chicken|
We woke to a terrifying sound, a cross between a small child and a cat screaming, but muffled. It was 3 am and it took a few minutes to register that it was an animal in distress. With in moments my husband and I were out in the yard looking towards the chicken coop as three of our four birds walked the plank to safety... What ever the sound was, was no longer coming from the coop, in fact it was quiet, too quiet. Then we saw a large grey fat body, striped tail and a smattering of feathers. Our hearts sank. I cursed myself and kept reassuring my girls who were now huddled underneath a board.
But the question remained what to do with the remaining birds with the big fat raccoon hanging out on top of the coop roof? My husband threw stones at the fence hoping to startle it, that just made it advance, it had its eyes on the three hens, probably trying to figure out which one to pick off first. So my husband found the biggest rock he could and hurled it at the intruder. With reluctance the bandit ambled off.
Shovel in hand (we had now armed ourselves with yard tools) we threw open the coop door. We didn't know what to expect, violent murder scene, more beady eyes? But nothing. The coop was empty. Thinking that it had already made off with one of the birds we bundled our girls up and returned them to the coop, blocking both entrances with heavy bricks... All was calm for now, Jeff canvased the hood to make sure we were not abandoning an injured bird but there was no sound. Whatever had been done was done and it was silent.
We admitted defeat and our (mine) negligence and crawled back into bed. Sad, sad that an animal in our care was carelessly treated and sad that we were going to have to tell our children. What were we going to tell our children? It took a long time to go back to sleep and once, when we almost were there was another large bang and shuffling in the backyard... instantly awake again Jeff checked the yard and sure enough the raccoons were back (2 of them) checking on the bricks that were luckily holding their places. Reluctantly we fell asleep, dreaming of hens and racoons.
Some time around 6:30 as it was getting light we heard our remaining girls making their morning sounds, they sounded loud and mad and I was envisioning them hollering at me to let them out of the coop of death and mourning their lost comrade. We also heard the pitter patter of feet (more like thump thump- my children are not graceful) running from room to room doing what ever kids do when they are trying to be quiet.
They were totally unaware of what happened during the night. As my husband I were getting dressed to face the day we started to have the preliminary conversation of how/what is the best way to tell them. When I looked outside towards the coop and there pecking and clucking next to the door was our fourth bird... Dora.
PS... Hug Your Chicken
is a PDF if you would like to download it...
Let me know if you do!!!