Day 233 of 365
When I went outside this afternoon to collect eggs and give the chicken coop a little clean, I noticed almost everyone was in the coop. I asked them what was going on, and I wondered if they had seen a hawk, though no one could confirm.
I set about cleaning the nest boxes and spot cleaning the coop floor, and during the process, I discovered there were beautiful little snowflakes, perfect and large enough to see, on the fence posts and gates. “There is beauty everywhere,” I thought to myself.
After I finished my tasks, I went back into the house to take a shower after my coop work, but I had an urge to get my phone and try to take a picture of those snowflakes. I was outside standing near the house with my back toward the chicken area when I heard the screaming.
I turned around just in time to see a hawk landing on a chicken. I think it was one of the Salmon Faverolles, one of my little muppets, but I am not sure. All I know for sure is that I saw the giant wings land on somebody and I went into panic mode. In a second, I tried to decide which gate would be the fastest and somehow decided on the gate that is frozen shut.
When I realized I couldn’t get through, I just started screaming and banging the fencing to possibly scare off the hawk and then beat on the gate until it opened. By the time I made it around the coop, the hawk was gone, but I was in time to see the ensuing panic. People were running for the coop door. Rooster and a few other hens were under the new dust bath area. Rooster was hollering and hollering, but, of course, he is no fighter. At least he started getting everyone into the coop when I came around.
Dvorak, our other rooster, was like “every rooster for himself,” and I saw him running into the coop just like the hens. I guess our giant rooster, Dvorak, isn’t a fighter either.
Thankfully, everyone seemed okay, but I started to realize that I wasn’t sure how long it took me to get through the fence and around the coop. What if the hawk got someone small and carried them off? The hawk looked really big to me. I started to worry about our smallest chickens.
I went into the coop and started looking for everyone. Quite a few people were missing, noticeably Arwen. She’s the youngest, still a bit of a baby girl and a small bird. After checking the coop, which was difficult because birds were huddled together, terrified from the attack, I ran outside to the driveway area to check the chickens who hang out in the front–Juliet, Ruby, and sometimes Kate and Bianca. Under Ron’s pickup, I found Juliet, Bianca, and Beatrice, which was interesting because she was not out front before the hawk attack. Apparently, she flew over the fence during the attack. I didn’t know Beatrice was a flyer. Desperate times, I guess.
I found Ruby in her dog crate by the garage, hiding her sweet little head in the straw, and I found Kate hiding under the canoe. But no Arwen.
So it was back the coop, back to the pick up, and back to the coop, touching each chicken to make sure I could see their faces. Calling her name. No Arwen. I started to cry. I was just about to go to the house to ask Ron for help, when I checked under the pickup one more time. I got down on the ground and was looking super carefully under the pickup, calling her name, and then above my head, I hear a chicken voice. I looked up, and there was Arwen, sitting on some part of the pickup, and looking very stressed about all of it. I was so happy to see that chicken’s fluffy little cheeks!
After walking around and around, I thought about how we need to start feeding the crows because winter is a hard time on the hawks. They are extra hungry. The hawk was a Cooper’s hawk. It’s always a Cooper’s hawk. They are wicked smart and so determined. I am sure it will be back. I had better make some streamers to hang around the coop, and I had better get the crows back. I will also be hanging out a lot tomorrow.
Still, the crows are the best hawk protection you can have for 24-7 protection. They raise their babies in our trees in the spring, and then we are safe from hawks. We do our best to keep the coming back, but in the winter, they don’t hang around as much unless you feed them. I was just reading about the very best things to give crows to get them to move in. I had better get on this tomorrow.
In the meantime, I am very sore (from breaking through the gate) and so tired from the experience. When I finally came inside and told Ron about it, he wondered how it is that I am always the one coming upon hawk attacks. I do not know, but I am grateful. I was too late for the first attack years ago, but I have been fortunate enough to stop the rest of them.
You feel such a burden though, so afraid to leave them. I stood outside for a long time this evening while they went to bed. I let them all play in the driveway with me watching. The cautious ones never came out though. Rooster stood at the door, watching me and watching the other chickens with such worry all evening.
That rooster is my people, isn’t he?
photo credit: Joshua J. Cotten, Unsplash