Sunday, July 6, 2008

And Then There Were Four

The raccoons took one of our chickens last night.

We spent the holiday weekend with Colleen and Ron, and were stumped when it came to deciding what to do with the chickens. We've never left them overnight before. They roost every night in their little henhouse, and Justin goes out sometime after dark and locks their door so that no predators get in, and he lets them out first thing in the morning. So---what to do, if we're not here? We weren't sure. We decided to leave extra food and water and hope that they stayed safe during our absence.

Off we went to enjoy the 4th of July and our extended family. Ron and Colleen took us to the parade, fed us extravagantly and loved on us for two whole days. We arrived back home yesterday afternoon and were relieved to see all five ladies milling about the yard, happy as can be. Wow, thought we, they did just fine. Guess they don't need to be locked up after all....

And then came this morning. We lay in bed and talked about how nice it was to not have to race outside first thing and let them out. We gloated about how happy they must be to not have to wait on us but to be able to wander outside any old time after the sun was up to go on the hunt for bugs. We felt so proud to have such strong hens that could defend themselves against the roaming neighborhood cats and coons.

Justin was in the shower when I realized I needed something from the car, something I forgot to bring in yesterday. I walked out past the coop barefoot, still in my jammies, and stared dumbly for several minutes at the scattered pile of feathers next to the Volvo. I couldn't figure out how the boys could have gathered so many feathers, and why they would have left them next to the car. I kept trying to remember what we had done yesterday evening and when it was that they played outside (they didn't). By the time I finally glanced over at the coop and saw another pile of feathers, outside the fence, my head was just starting to comprehend what I was seeing. I ran over to the fence, ducking to catch a glimpse under their building, calling them, scanning the yard. Four chickens came to greet me.

Back out to the car, where I finally saw a trail of flurried feathers leading through the parking area and out into--and all around--the front yard. Every six feet or so was another pile of feathers. My heart sank. I ran inside and yelled for Justin, and we went back into the yard.

What a way to wake up, right? And how could we not have heard anything through our open window? The trail led into the bushes, out to the street, and stopped at a neighbor's tree. By then we were finding evidence that our chicken wasn't so much what you might call "alive". We stepped back and shielded our eyes and searched the treetops for any kind of visible den, but those trees are so tall, and raccoons are so good at hiding. We couldn't see a thing.

It's a bit melancholy around our house today. It seems silly to be mourning the loss of an animal that we planned on eventually killing ourselves anyway. But we weren't ready, and it feels, rightly, like a life has been stolen. And there are still lessons in little moments like these. As we came back in and tried to compose what was left of our morning, and distract ourselves with making breakfast, the Lord brought to mind the parable of the shepherd, who will leave his flock of 99 to find just one that is missing. I feel a twinge of understanding, searching for the one that was lost. And I'm thinking: How much more, then, does Christ care for us, and long for our restoration?


Here are some photos from our weekend.

Doesn't Reubsy look handsome in his momma's glasses?

waiting for the parade:

justin and doug and (a few of) the boys:

lollys with gramma:

reuben, sam and sophie:



Jill said...

Oh no! We don't even lock ours up at night in the coop :(

Lynne Paulus said...

I have experienced many chicken "masacres" through the years and can understand the sadness of an untimely loss. Glad the kids didn't hear or see it happening though that would have been really hard.

Miss Nikki said...

How sad about your chicken, I really dislike racoons! Great pictures, I love the sparklers- they turned out great!

Dana Hope said...

Oh, poor little chicky! I'm sorry. What a beautiful picture of Psalm 99--He does pursue us with that intensity, doesn't He?
Looks like you had a fun weekend. Chat soon, I hope.