Friday, February 21, 2014

And then there were 2...

In April 2013, we entered the world of backyard chickens... from raising the fluffy chicks in the house to building a coop to collecting eggs. Over that time, I've been the main chicken caregiver. The girls have been wonderful playmates for the flock and good egg retrievers and John is my reliable coop-closer at night. I've religiously cared for the ladies, building their humble abode, keeping them fed (well fed - I've learned that hens love warm oats, a nice bowl of yogurt, or a good helping of quinoa), watered, and clean, freeing them each morning to roam about the yard as chickens love to do. I've spent more time in the backyard, rain or snow or shine, tending to the flock. It hasn't bothered me one bit and, actually, I've quite enjoyed it (except during my first trimester, during which time the sight/smell/thought of the chickens made me wholeheartedly question my sanity in getting them - thank goodness that passed). I've only bought 6 eggs since July, and that's only because I dropped a carton of our girls' eggs. I had to tend to a dead chicken in the Fall when the neighbor's dog feasted upon Plum; I had to rescue a chicken from being pinned to the ground when a hawk attacked Lavender. No problem!

Last week, after dinner out, we got home around 8:30. John headed downstairs to let the dog out which was when he discovered Lavender on the patio. In the dark. Long past her roost-time. Strange? Yes. Worrisome? Not yet. I scooped her up, grabbed the flashlight, and headed to the coop. Hmmmm.... the fence was all closed up around their corner, so why was Lavender out and about? Strange? Yes. Worrisome? Not yet. I opened the fence, chicken still under my arm, and leaned in to stick her in the coop. I gave the doorway a quick shine of the flashlight and was met with two very large beady eyes. Strange? Yes. Worrisome? HELL YES! I screamed. Loud. Girly. Twice. And in that moment, for the first time, I thought "what have I done?".

We learned that night about opossums. Very large, ugly, chicken-eating opossums. Both Lavender and Pip had dug their way underneath the fence and escaped; sadly Peep was not so lucky. After a lot of pacing (with Lavender still under my arm, mind you), us non-farm-folk did the best thing we knew how to do: call someone who is. Within a 30 minutes, and sparing you a lot of details, one of John's co-workers came to our rescue and left with both the opossum and the dead chicken. And I'll tell you what - if you're a city-dweller who wants chickens, make sure in your network of contacts you have "that" person to call. Because I don't know a lot of others who would drop everything to wrastle a giant rodent.

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