It never bloody ends.
Rocky, our smallest chick, so named because she was both a barred rock and an underdog, got picked off by a hawk. She had a beak problem, either a deformity or an injury, that apparently made it tough to eat, and her development lagged behind. Still, she was growing. She was also feisty, and always gave us a hard time when we had to round up the flock.
The birds have been in Day Camp, an area in front of our house that we fenced off with chicken wire. We put them all out there in the morning, let them peck and scratch and run around to their hearts’ content, and return them to the brooder at night.
Last week, Kevin spotted a hawk circling overhead, apparently thinking about having chicken for lunch. To protect the birds, he put a net over their play area. Although the hawks could probably still see the chicks, we were hoping they wouldn’t have a trajectory in.
No such luck. The hawk went around and under, snatched up Rocky, and headed for the tall trees around the pond. We found some feathers around the back of the house.
That put an end to Day Camp. And, since the chicks were too big to spend 24/7 in their brooder, we implemented an Accelerated Chicken Integration Plan.
We’d planned to wait another week or so, and then sneak the chicks into the big-girl coop late at night, after the big girls had gone to bed. But a hungry hawk lent a certain urgency to our situation. Before it could come back for seconds, Kevin rounded up the rest of the chicks, corralled the five grown-up chickens, and put them all in the run. Together.
We figured there’d be bullying and confusion and fear, but being bullied and confused and frightened beats being eaten. They’ll just have to learn to get along.
Now, if we can go a week or two with nothing dying, I’ll be grateful.