Highs and Lows

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Yesterday was opening day at the Farmers’ Market.   We were up very early to pick veggies and were able to take a good variety of great food.  It was nice to see some of our friends and even though the crowd was small by the standards of most farmers’ markets, it is encouraging to see more and more people rejecting industrial food and returning to the wholesome goodness of fresh, organic, locally-grown whole foods.

So that was a high.

But later in the day, when I went to check on the animals, at one of the new coops I found a pile of feathers, 4 frightened chicks hiding under the coop and 12 missing.

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We’ve been through this enough for me to be pretty sure I knew what happened.  A hawk had taken one of the chicks, sending the rest of them into a panic.  The missing 11 must have flown over the fence. 

Later, while searching for the missing, my suspicion was confirmed.  I saw the hawk, which had presumably returned for more.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a hawk attack.  This one is quite a punch in the gut.  We’ve spent a lot of time with these chicks, we’ve grown fond of them, and we have high hopes for them. 

We searched until it was too dark to see.  Two of the missing wandered home on their own.  Just as darkness was falling I found four more, roosting in a small tree, and they let me gather them up and carry them home.

So, as of now, we have one missing and presumed dead, and five more missing but likely alive as of last night.  Those five were at great risk roosting unprotected.  I’m hoping they turn up today.

Predator attacks are part of farm living.  But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to them.

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9 comments on “Highs and Lows

  1. Amanda says:

    I run cheap bright yarn back and forth across the top of the fence, not a lot, just enough to give a hawk the visual. I think they get afraid of tangling their wings because, usually they leave the birds alone after that.

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    • Bill says:

      That’s a great idea Amanda. I’ve heard of doing that to keep crows out the corn, but not over chicken fences (though it makes perfect sense). thanks

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  2. C.C. says:

    You describe this harsh reality with fairness.
    I had really enjoyed yesterday’s post about your Dominicks – learning about this breed for the first time. They are so beautiful – physically and in spirit, though in need of a lot of care like all.
    Beautiful stand of produce!
    Wishing you all rest and more reunion.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. It’s a great breed. They’re tame and easy to handle. My mother told me that when she was growing up (60 years ago or so) they had only dominickers and Rhode Island Reds. In those days it was important that the chickens be dual purpose (for eating and laying) and that they brood and forage well. I’m excited to see how these do (even as I’m frustrated by yesterday’s events).
      I couldn’t get a good picture of our stand because of they way the sun was shining (and because I was using the camera on my phone), so this picture doesn’t show most of what we brought. It seems I did manage to capture the dumpster and trash can though. 🙂

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  3. shoreacres says:

    Oh, dear, oh, dear. Not only is the loss sad, those other chicks must have been terrified. Have the others come home yet? I certainly hope so.

    If someone had told me ten years ago I’d be upset over the loss of a chicken in Virginia I’d come to know via the internet, I would have thought them crazy. Of course, if someone had told me I’d be watching when Mike Bettes’ chase vehicle got picked up and tossed by a tornado, I wouldn’t have believed that, either.

    Well, I’m really glad your first day at the market went well!

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks for being concerned. I’m sorry to say the others haven’t returned.

      It’s amazing how the internet has connected the world over the last 10 years or so.

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    • Bill says:

      Update. When I went to shut the girls in tonight, I was delighted to discover that the missing five had returned. An unexpected pleasant surprise. They seemed hungry, but otherwise no worse for the wear. I’m loving this breed. Hope we can keep them from harm.

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      • shoreacres says:

        Hooray! And have I got news for you! No time to add it all now, but suffice it to say I was so excited I almost called you and Cherie. It involves bacon, for one thing. 😉

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      • Bill says:

        Hmm. I reckon I’ll have to stay in suspense a while. I’m hoping it’s that you’re coming to visit us, on the condition that we serve you some bacon. 🙂

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