Friday, October 21, 2011

Betrayed by nature

As a few of you know, yesterday morning was quite chaotic at this house.  My day started like usual.  I got my boots on and went to check on my chickey-doos.  I saw Jessie was up in the coop laying an egg, and i got food for the others and opened the door to let them out.  Like usual.  So there i was cleaning out the poo in the coop with my little toy yellow shovel (actually the kids shovel that they are no longer allowed to touch) I heard some squawking and and ruffling. 

Now let me just explain how our coop is set up first. Originally my brother made me a coop for the chickens. Its awesome and i painted it red and i am proud of it.  But with winter coming, Jeromy and i were trying to hatch (pun intended) an idea about how to keep them warm and protected and yet give them enough room to be out in the winter with out being in the snow.  It was a long thought process.  Jeromy's work was throwing out a bunch of garage door sections that were used at a bar in St. Paul, they were insulated and full glass...i know, crazy.  So he thought up an idea in his head, ran it by me (barely) and brought the sections home.  I was a little shocked about how ghetto this was going to look. Being married to a "garage door guy" but growing up as a carpenters daughter (literally) was weird to me.  Everything my Dad made used 2 x 4's and nails and now everything that my husband builds includes thrown out garage door parts and and self tappers.  Very weird to me. 

Sometimes i just say to Jeromy  "Can't ya ever just use wood and a nail!!"  (just a sidenote)

Anywhooo, back to the coop. Jeromy ended up building (and working very hard on) this amazing glass coop that connects to the garage door so i can walk right out and collect the eggs with out having to shovel or go through and snow.  I LOVE it.  I didn't think i would...but honestly, every time i go out there, i just think "i love this."  Okay, so i have a huge glass coop with a screened window that i can open and close depending on the weather and inside that coop, is the smaller wood coop where my girls lay their eggs and sleep.  

Okay, so...i am cleaning out the little coop when i hear ruffling and squawking...and then more squawking...and then a deathly scream coming from my chickens!!  (Apparently i threw the shovel or something because i have yet to find it)  I ran out of the coop to look for my birds.  I hear the sound coming from just beyond the barbed wire fence next to my the neighbors shed.  Its weird that they even went over there so early in the morning.  I walked a little closer and fear totally overtook me.  I mean, i was a freaked out. I hear the ear piercing ruckus and start to say to myself quietly "Something has my, not lucy....not my chicken...something has MY CHICKENS!!"  My words intensified as i felt overwhelmed and helpless.  I couldn't quite see what had them.  I quickly thought about my neighbors cat and then thought that couldn't be. My chickens follow her around and think she is one of them.  If i weren't such a baby, i may have hoped over the barbed wire fence (as if) and checked it out.  But with the ruffling and the screaming, i thought a bobcat had my girls.  "Oh Nooooo, not my chickens!"  i kept saying as my mind reeled about what to do next.  Suddenly i saw Buzz (my rooster) come flying like a crazy man out of the woods and straight through the fence. Never looking back.  Then i say another chicken run from the other direction squawking and flapping her winds as fast as chickenly possibly.  I knew Jessie was safe in the coop. So i quickly turned to shut the door and thought about my next step.  Then i turned back to the fence.  The overwhelming feeling of fear almost consumed me.  What if i see my chickens tore up? What if they are just clinging to life? I can not DO this! No my little lucy! Lord, please, not my Lucy. I CAN'T do this...

It felt like an eternity before the attack stopped.  The chicken screams, oh the chicken screams. And suddenly like a miracle, i saw Lucy come flying out of the woods, feathers falling off her as she crossed over into my yard.  She didn't stop running and she disappeared out of sight.  I turned back to the neighbors shed. By this time i had two large sticks, one in each hand.  And sitting majestically on top of the shed staring down at me was a huge hawk. 

Let me take you back to my childhood for a second.  I used to go outside and listen for the two hawks that lived in our back woods. I loved them.  I named them "Uh oh" and "Crash" (ya, don't ask me why)  But i always loved hawks. I loved their beauty and i loved their sound. I could pick out the distinct sound of a hawk anywhere. So ya get me, i loved them.  Well, 5 months ago, i got chickens and i came to realize that the hawk is one of the chickens biggest predators. My love for the hawk was trumped.  It was over.  Now i feared their sound and hoped never to see them around my house.

Flash forward to yesterday.  There was that hawk, my old love.(my ex, if you will)  Sitting looking at me, laughing. (i swear it was laughing at me)

Now if any of you know me well enough, you know i am sometimes a big talker, but when push comes to shove, i am a "flighter"  You know, when our body kicks into defense mode we either choose to "fight or flight"...turns out this big ol girl is a flighter.

Back to the hawk.  It looked at me and i looked at it and i had a choice to make.  I naturally felt like running inside and hiding and wishing this day never happened, but something changed. I was in charge of this farm (i like to think its a farm, okay) These were my birds you attacked. And now i'm after you. I ran at the shed smashing my sticks together and yelling at that dumb bird.  "Get outta here!" I crashed my sticks together so hard that they broke and the bird finally flew off.  "That's right, fly...and never come back, ya here...never come back!!" (i may have added that part to sound cool, i don't think i really said it)

Well, as i was running under the bird and slamming sticks i realized that he didn't go far and i still had my chickey doos to protect.  I changed direction and ran to find Buzz. He was at the back corner of the house standing as close to it as possible.  I realized i had to find these birds and get them to safety before that hawk came back. I shooed Buzz to the front and realized that my yard was a ghost town. My birds where gone and i had to accept it and protect who i had left.  (All the while my mind wondered where Lucy ran off too...did she ever stop. Or did she just lay down and die?)  I walked with Buzz and my stick around the house.  I got to the front porch and what did I see?? Lucy cowered down in between the shrubs hiding.  Or was she dying?  Buzz went to her and she stood up and walked with him. My heart broke. She could walk. Was it just the adrenaline or was she actually going to live?!  I felt a sting of the possibility of joy. Ands also the sting of the fact that i was still in my pajamas and my big ol boots. Freezing.  I tried to get the birds to enter into the small little hole in our lattice around our front porch and when i got down on my hands and knees to out them in there...i saw my two Wynadottes hiding under the porch too.  That made Jessie in the coop.  5...i found 5 chickens. 5 of my babies were at least here. I didn't know what the damage was, but at least i found them.  I got the 4 birds together and safe under the porch.  I walked around the house looking for more, but avoiding the area of the attack. I just couldn't look. I didn't want to know.  Laying half on her side behind a chair that was leaning against the garage was my Americana, Tootsie.  She didn't look right. Her feathers were ruffled around her back and she didn't get up to move when i came close to her. Her lids were heavy and she just watched me.  My heart was sad.  The fact that my chickens had to take cover at their own house was sad. The fact that the hawk and the chicken will never be in harmony made me mad. The fact that sin was so obvious and in front of me today angered me.  The lion and the lamb won't lay together, at least not this side of the vail.  Sin. 

I turned around and ran into the house and told the kids in a little hysterics that a hawk got out chickens and that i had to find them but to prepare to have lost some.  I got my gloves and sweatshirt on and marched straight across the street to my wonderful neighbor and friend's house, Nicole.  Nicole has and loves her own chickens and we have spend many hours this past Summer just sitting in chairs talking and admiring our birds.  I needed her. She could do this.  When she came to the door I just said "A hawk got my chickens!"  And all she said was "I'll get my jeans on."  That sentence was music to my soul.  Nicole could do this. She could make it better. I walked ahead of her and waited. Within a moment she was by my side. She asked what happened and where it happened and explained the morning to her but told her that i didn't want to go the the scene of the crime. I didn't want to see who that hawk got.  I knew i was missing my Americana, Bear.  I just wanted to focus on getting my chicks together and safe again.  As we walked back to the hiding chicken behind the chair, it seemed to be trying to stand...oh, please, be okay.  And as Buzz crowed under the porch, Tootsie slowly got up and we walked her to him.  This couldn't be possible. Could it? 

All the while Gus was barking and barking in the garage. He knew something was going on, and i wanted to let him out but couldn't stomach the thought that he might come back with one of my birds in his mouth.  With 5 birds at the porch, Nicole and i decided to walk them to the coop together and survey the damage there.  It took a little coaxing with sunflower seeds, but i had 6 chickens in the coop. They were all walking and seemingly healthy.  I was just missing Bear.  Nicole said she would check the area of attack and that i didn't have to go with her.  As i stood there and she started to walk...what would happen?  Bear, waked out of the opposite side of our woods peeping softly. SHE WAS ALIVE!!  All 7 chickens were alive.  I know this sounds lame, and if i weren't in my shoes i would say "they're just chickens, for petes sake." But they aren't just chickens. These are my chickens.

The day finished with a blur and Nicole was over a few times and we hung out in the coop and we both just kept repeating "I can't believe they are all okay!"  There was no way they should have been okay. No way.

As i looked out the window and as i layed in bed last night. I felt fear. I felt uneasy. I felt unsafe. I felt betrayed by nature.

But today i conclude with this, God protected my chickens yesterday.  He loves the little sparrow, and he loves those little chickies too!

This is our Lucy

This is a picture i took this morning.  My beautiful little flock.  They weren't meant for slaughter, they were meant to provide companionship to the kids and healthy eggs for us.  I love these birds.