Monday, December 29, 2008

In memory of our chicks

Today is a sad day. When I went to the chook pen this morning to let the chooks out, I noticed the chicks weren't there. Being hen raised (not incubator) the chicks were the only ones of our flock to roost in trees occasionally, which they'd been known to do during the day, so we supposed they hadn't gone in that night with the others but roosted (which means they should have been safe.) The picture above is an old one. They have grown a fair bit - proper wings and feathers. Young poulets really though we still call them the chicks.

Those of you who have met the chicks know that they were allowed to free range, because they weren't causing damage like the others (who were limited to the pen and orchard). We often find them joining us out in the garden later in the morning after their morning forage. By mid morning I got anxious enough to do a thorough search of the property because I couldn't see them or hear them. Sure enough, beneath the grevillea hedge are the scattered feathers, some in clumps which we all know to mean 'fox attack'.

I have to admit I had a good bawl. Me, who was intent on not becoming attached to them because we knew a few were roosters and destined for the pot. But as I found the feathers of 'Blacky' (silently named, as we never 'gave' them names intentionally), and found the down from the one I thought of as the 'mafia chick' because of it's moustache shaped combs, I realised I had done the unthinkable and had thought of them as pets as much as stock.

It is just so disappointing. All that work by Stormy, the mother hen. And all the hours we spent watching them, and laughing at their antics in the mulch and garden. Few domestic birds are allowed to roam as ours did. What a shame.

What have we learned? Clip chicks wings (they were able to get in and out by flying) and keep them in the orchard with the others. It may not be as fun but it's safe.

Our only consolation (as if there is one really) is that for the brief time they lived, they were the happiest chicks we've ever met.

For now, just feeling very very sad. :(


goingferal(ish) said...

I can understand, am sorry to hear your chicks are gone :(

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Thank you. Happier post soon, promise!

Anonymous said...

awww Nat, I'm sorry. I understand the attachment too, although we say we won't it seems inevitable with most.

One wing on each clipped and in the orchard sounds good, they will be safer as you say, and after seeing that area I think they will still be plenty happy!

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Thanks Molly - Tonight the other chooks refused to go in the pen.Hubby and I had to collect them from about the yard and bring them in to perch. Did the fox actually get into the coop? We don't know. All of them were rather subdued tonight and Henry didn't crow all day. :( Makes sense that we're all feeling it.

TheCrone said...

Nat I just read this as I've not been on the pc much lately. I am so sorry that this happened to you. I've also lost chooks before to foxes and the destruction is horrible.

They seem to kill just for the fun of the hunt. We only ever had one chook taken, the rest were just decapitated.

I don't know what the answer is to the fox problem but Molly's advice re wings is probably the best.


Cathode said...

Shoot the fox. oO and give me its fur : )

Sorry to hear about the chicks.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps keep them locked in a for a few days, then feed them at night when you want to lock them up?

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Thanks to all of you - the chooks are going into the coop again. RE: the fox destruction Crone, the foxes decapitate the chooks because they don't actually eat them, they just need the blood to help them lactate when their whelping. it is a shame. You could understand taking one because it was hungry, but the amount of killing is yuk.
Cat, I'll keep you in mind for a fox pelt!