This has been a good week for our chicks, but as they gain more independence, my worry for them increases. It’s becoming a habit that at around 3 am every day, some fresh idea about how our chicks could be perishing occurs to me.
At first, I worried that they would be too cold in the coop, found in the morning cold and still as chicken popsicles. Then I thought they might be attacked by some animal, just desperate enough to claw through the wooden coop after such a harsh winter.
Most recently, I watched as they roamed free around the back yard, parading along like a group of birds off to tell someone the sky was falling.
It reminded me of the last generation of chickens we raised, three Dominques who were always walking around three in a row. Until one day, when I noticed there were only two chickens roaming around. We discovered number 3 dead in another area of the yard. There were feathers everywhere, and her fatal wound was at the neck. As we gathered around the dead chicken, a bodiless voice, thick with an Eastern European accent, reported seeing a hawk perched on a nearby corner of the house recently. It was our neighbor on the other side of our 8 foot stockade fence, who had come out to quiet her barking dog.
This loss was taken hardest by my son, who was 9 at the time. He took to sitting in the yard with a Nerf gun, occasionally taking aim at that hawk. My 7-year-old was less disturbed: as we sat at the table later rehashing the events of the day she asked, “can’t we make it for dinner?”
Maybe I’ll think about that next time it’s 3 am.