Chicken Little: The Night the Sky Fell

Today’s blog is strictly personal. Last weekend, we made a mistake. We accidentally forgot to open the door to our chicken roost so the chickens had to sleep in the coop without the protection of the roost. Around 3am, I heard a horrible noise. I cannot say enough about how horrible that noise was. I thought, don’t worry, “the girls” are safe – they are in their roost.

But of course, they weren’t. When I finally heard what was clearly a chicken sound in the melee, I ran outside to find a huge raccoon attacking my darling little Sweet Pea. She was already dead and our other bird, Lily was in a stupor. I chased the raccoon away in a screaming fit that shockingly, my neighbors did not hear. I managed to get the roost open, get Lily inside and get myself back into the house.

I woke my eight year old daughter up to tell her the news. Frankly, I figured she had to have heard the noise but she hadn’t so instead she had to deal with a freaked out, adrenalized mom. She did a good job too because I was a wreck. Who knew I had become so attached to my little chickens? As a telecommuter, I realize they have become like co-workers to me. I go out and talk to them when I need a break. They are steady, centered companions who don’t react to stress or office politics.

Sweet Pea had a rough start in life – bullied by another hen we had originally. But we made a change and life was good. She was a beautiful Silkie mixed with Cochin and had the prettiest gold chest. She had just started laying and while the eggs were rather small, I admired her steadfast effort.

A friend from Flickr – a woman whom I have never met but shared great chicken stories with via photos and comments – was a great support. She offered advice and consolation. My cousin, who reminded me we share a “farm girl” legacy offered by our grandmother, told me we should get a new chick as soon as possible so Lily, my stunned survivor would have something to focus on.

Meanwhile, on a pragmatic front, my mom, always the trooper – saved the day. She offered to come clean up the mess and brought supplies for a proper burial including a headstone that Katie fixed up. We said our goodbyes and went to the feed store to bring home a new baby chick: a Rhode Island Red. The cutest darn thing you’ve ever seen.

Lily was a godsend for Sweet Pea nearly a year ago and it turns out her mothering instinct is still there. We slipped the baby under her wing as soon as it was dark and the magic began. She’s already taking the baby out for walks in the coop since we are having warm sunny weather. Just wait until she finds out her “baby” will grow to twice her size. She’s going to feel like Michael Jordan’s mom – no doubt!

So this is my little tribute to a sweet little bird that made a difference in our lives. We pet owners share that sweetness: the joy of new love, the enduring attachment as we care for them and the sad farewells.

If you’d like to see some of the pictures, I have posted them on Flickr.

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