We’ve had a weasel attack in the chicken coop. Over the past 2 days, we’ve lost 16 to the beast. How do we know it was a weasel you ask? Because weasels attack from behind, chomping chicken heads off and then leaving the body to rot. They don’t eat the chicken. Just bite the head of and leave it. Serial killers of the animal world. Killing for fun.
Three roosters have survived. A once bustling coop stands empty. And will remain so. The remaining chickens are free to live high in the rafters of the barn. The coop became a containment cage, with no escape when danger arrived. Now they can escape. But I think, if they’ve survived these two attacks, they’re either too big or too frisky even for the weasel.
It’s weird to go outside now. The farm had been bustling with 19 chickens. Now they are gone. There’s a certain uncomfortable silence. And so it will remain for the season. In the spring, we’ll get some more chicks and try again. But for now, with winter quickly approaching, it would be too much to ask of the babies.
I raised every chicken we lost from day-old chicks. I had three of them for over 3 years. I can be stoic about all this. They’re just chickens. And I’ve gotten in the habit of not naming the birds of the farm because I know their existence can be precarious. But it’s still upsetting. To think about their final moments. And it wouldn’t be as horrible if they were actually eaten. But to be wasted for sport seems excessive – especially in the animal kingdom. All we can do it remember, and do better next time around.
One of our ducks decided to hatch her brood three days ago. What a treat. Little ducklings, looking for heat, in November. And to make it worse, they were bedded down in the big barn, with sheep and llama hooves to navigate. It was decided to move them today. One had already died in the nest. They now live in a large cage, with a dog house, fresh straw, and a heat lamp. Momma put up quite the fight, but she, along with her 4 babies, are now eating, drinking, and basking in the sweet infrared light.
After watching them for a few minutes, duckling hopping around carefree, while momma eats, it made me think. They had a pretty complex life in the barn. Other ducks to contend with, larger animals, and a number of fences with openings big enough for babies but not for mother. Now, they live in a roomy cage, with plenty of room to romp. They have a heat lamp, food, and no need to worry about the unexpected intrusions from the random farm animal.
I wonder if momma duck recognizes this. I wonder if she’ll be calmer. I wonder if the babies, who were shivering when they were placed in their new house, can appreciate the heat lamp blaring high temperatures into their house. It’s life made simpler. Easier. But I know she’ll still put up a fuss, she’ll still snap at me when I offer her food, and still try to snap my pinkie finger when she gets fresh water. It’s her way. The way of the Runner Duck. Of the duck, in fact. Even of the bird.
So live your blissful life me ducks. You may not know how well you’ve got it. But that’s what I’m here for. I’ve raised you from a baby momma. And so you’re little ones will receive the same kindness.