Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May Our Chickens (and My Racing Mind) Rest in Peace

Last week Dad transferred our seven chickens from indoors to a coop he built them outside. During the day the chicks wandered near the coop or roosted inside and at night they willingly re-entered it to be locked up for safekeeping. We were all much happier! They liked the freedom and we liked that the house no longer smelled.

This morning when Dad went to let them, there was one living rooster, four dead hens and lots of feathers. He found Miss Cleo, my Easter Egger, in the yard and another brown one is still missing. We have no idea how a predator got them out of the hen house! Or even got in there... Its windows were wire-lined and there weren't any cracks bigger than the 1/4 inch up where the roof and the walls met higher than 8 feet up. Based on these descriptions it must have been a fox. (Mr. Fox, you are no longer fantastic.)

The chickens weren't my idea. They weren't friendly. They weren't even laying eggs yet and I had said from day one that if they turned out to be roosters we were eating them... I know predators go after chickens. Yet I am upset. We had nurtured them from little balls of fluff into pullets that were big enough to live outside. If we ended up eating a rooster, it was our decision. These deaths, like most deaths, were not our decision. They are shocking and feel like theft.

I turned my life on end this past December. I left NYC's hustle, bustle and breathtaking bits of blue sky between the tall buildings, its comfortable friends and patterns and came home to pursue a different future. I started non-curricular classes to complete pre-requisites to apply to graduate programs, volunteering, catering and trying to catch up with the people and the changes in Richmond that had occurred since I left in 2003 for the DC-area then NYC. I had reluctantly decided to try and be brave; I still am trying.

Some days I feel like I'm pursuing destiny and everything is great! Other days, like today when something little goes wrong, I struggle. Logically I know life is unpredictable, rolling with the punches is good, that the only way I can succeed is to stop worrying and act, blah, blah blah... But here I am catastrophizing that the chickens have died, I'm not going to get through the hard science classes I largely bypassed in undergrad, graduate school won't happen, etc. Silly.

Anyway, I thought I would empty my mind here hopefully disrupting the cycle so I can get back to Microbiology. Success isn't going to come from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It may not come from dedicated studying either, but at least I will actively have tried rather than letting the fear of failure halt me. If the current plan doesn't work out, there is another one somewhere... I just have to be open to whatever comes my way.

May our chickens rest in peace and may we find the rooster a new home, so he doesn't meet the same fate as the other chickens tonight. 


  1. This is too bad. Having grown up on a farm, we were always losing our chickens and ducks to predators. It is so frustrating. I guess that is why you raise so many little ones, so you have a few left that mature. Hang in there.

  2. Sarah - Thank you for the kind words. It is frustrating! If it had only been a few it perhaps wouldn't hurt as much. Mom and I are hoping to convince Dad to try again after fortifying the coop. *fingers crossed*

  3. Aw, I'm just seeing this Sarah, though i'd read the bad news about the chicks elsewhere. I think you're very brave and I think what you're doing is wonderful! The best we can do is to work hard at the plan for right now, and you seem to be doing an amazing job of that. I can't wait to see how the rest of this adventure unfolds, hopefully with more chickens! xoxo

  4. You know, Rooster meat isn't like chicken meat. It's tough... and just doesn't taste good. :-)

    But I think you're doing great, even without chickens!! And seriously... how can you stand all of the crowing from the roosters? I want to wring the neck of every rooster I hear from 3am onwards...

  5. Mel - Thank you so much. I appreciate your support of my efforts and adventure. I like watching your events too. Dad seems somewhat open to chickens now. My fingers are crossed...

    Chessa - I had no idea. Thanks for the heads up about Rooster meat. I suppose it will have to braised or just used for stock? Right now it sounds like we'll be using him for racoon bait once Dad fortifies the current coop to see it works. He has learned to crow as of this week and it is pretty aggravating though surely nothing like what you are encountering in Haiti!