When Nature creeps in.

And then there were four. We started out with five chickens but a predator snatched one from us. Last week we almost lost another. It's hard to know exactly whether it's a coyote, or fox feeding her family (we heard the kits all screeching early in the spring), or a hungry hawk. The eagle that flies over regularly is likely more interested in fish but who knows. Whoever it is that snatched Marcella midday a couple weeks ago likely realized that there was easy pickings here on our little acreage.

The chickens were working their way around the gardens, picking all the bugs. It was mid afternoon. Suddenly I heard the terrible shrieking of a chicken in distress and dashed out just in time to see some violent thrashing in the bush. I ran over screaming and waving arms and fortunately I startled the predator enough it lost it's grip. Dottie came flying straight up like a cannon shot and then dove into the nearby raspberry canes. Whatever it was disappeared so fast I never even got a look. Where she was grabbed was flattened and littered with feathers. After scratching myself to hell crawling through the raspberry bushes I finally found her. She was so limp when I picked her up I was sure she was badly hurt. I stroked her neck and she panted and whimpered all the way to the coop. I checked her over and she seemed uninjured but she was horribly traumatized and panting with her beak open. She immediately huddled in the darkest corner of the coop farthest from the door while I went off in search of the other three.

It only took a little more searching to find Joan head first in the wood pile under an over turned wheelbarrow. All that was visible were those little golden tail feathers sticking out. I got her in the coop and while she normally kicks up a fuss when I pick her up, she didn't say a peep this time.

An hour of crawling through the woods, walking the property and calling but two of my girls were still missing. While walking and talking on the phone I suddenly turned to see Blondie running towards me. So I took her and put her in the coop. She joined the other two in the dark corner. They huddled together like a bunch of football players discussing the next play. Jessie was no where to be found.

As the evening went by I kept calling her and my heart grew heavier by the hour. Jessie was special. She was our first. And she always laid such beautiful eggs. The other hens were still traumatized and no one was roosting on the perch as they always do when night approaches. When it was almost fully dark I went out to close the window on the coop and there she was under the window, calling to the other girls and they were answering back. She paced back and forth trying to figure out how to get in but when she saw me she ran to me. So into the coop she went. Almost immediately the mood in the coop lifted and the other three started to move about. The family was together again. Once she finished getting her fill of food and water they all hopped onto the perch to roost for the night. What an ordeal!

I was a little worried how everyone would be the next day but thankfully, all was well thanks to the use of some Rescue Remedy drops in the water. Needless to say, they aren't free ranging anymore. We keep them penned up which they aren't happy with. But when I let them out a week later to roam free while I did some work outside, it was clear they were forever changed by the ordeal. A crow gave a loud shriek and in the blink of an eye, Dottie was in behind the compost bin hiding. A delivery truck drove up the driveway and a man stepped out. All I saw was the back end of four hens running for the coop.

So a neighbour says, "Get a dog. With a dog on the property the fox and coyote won't venture out of the woods into your yard." We thought that made sense and so we embarked on a quest to find a dog. We had no idea how scarce dogs are in P.E.I. Finding a dog here is like looking for the lost city of Atlantis. We have had to resort to looking off island, to neighbouring provinces like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We answer an ad for a dog needing a new home and within hours the dog is taken. The Humane Society hasn't had any available for months. Rescue organizations only have a few and often they are listed as 'no kids, no cats please'. There are breeders who want huge sums of money we can't afford and really, we just want a farm dog. We aren't looking for a purebred show dog. So our search continues and hopefully the Universe will see fit to send one our way. In the meantime, no free ranging the chickens, and I have to check on them frequently to make sure no one is lurking around the pen. We haven't had time to build the proper outdoor chicken run and the makeshift pen they are using isn't particularly predator proof. I wonder if I should put a sign on the front lawn?



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