Sunday, April 1, 2018

Damn the Hawks

We lost Peggy Sue this afternoon between 1:30 and 3:00.

Rick and I were doing some "vet work" (and I use that term loosely) on Ruby Dee in the donkey yard around 1:00, leaving the area with chickens running loose roughly a half an hour later.  I went out at 3:00 to corral everyone and I knew immediately something was wrong.  The neighbor's guinea hens were squawking like crazy in a bush next to the donkey pasture.

No, it can't be.  Deja vu with the scene from last year and Dottie.  Same place. 
Her body there with feathers strewn.  Had to be a hawk.  Damn it!

Lily and Lulu (Peggy Sue's chick mates) were wandering a bit looking dazed.  Calling the rest of the girls, I peered into the far pasture, checked the coop, my stomach turning with each minute of no girls.  I found them huddled in the donkey shed, Ruby Dee with her head under a hay pallet.

I'm sure I posed the same question last year when we lost Dottie.
Free range (even for a short time) vs safety.
Safest times for free range.  I moved their free time up to early afternoon to try and avoid foxes.  There just doesn't seem to be any safe zone.

Damn it!

Peggy Sue on top with Lulu.
She could not be kept away from the hay aisle.

Lily on the left
Peggy Sue in the middle
Lulu on the right


  1. So sorry for your loss, Janet.

  2. Sorry to hear that you have lost Peggy Sue. It is so upsetting when something like this happens. I have had this debate before about free ranging v's safety. Yes they absolutely love a free life, but I think I have to go along the lines of safety first. If we go out I always lock the girls up in their coop. They don't have much room, but I need peace of mind. They do play out in the garden when we are with them and then I round them up - well saying that all I need is a bag of mealworms and they come running. I think that chickens like routine and they get used to it very quickly. I have two new babies now. Two Novo Brown (Hybrid) girls that are eighteen weeks old. They are in a separate coop and there is a dividing gate in the run to keep them apart from Rose and Violet. Thought Rose and Vi would scream the place down, but so far, touch wood, they have been really good. Yesterday they all came out in the garden together and there was a little bit of head pecking. My new girls are called Olive and Ivy. Once again, Janet, so sorry to hear your sad news.

  3. So sorry to hear about Peggy Sue. I guess there really is no "safe" time unless you are with them. My condolences to you.

  4. Sorry for your loss. I hate it when it happens. I debated the whole free range vs. safety issue a few months ago when 2 stray dogs got in and killed 3 of my chickens. I was SO mad. And then scared for my ladies. So, I tried to keep them "put up". They weren't having it. And, my husband made a good point. I would rather them have a shorter full life with free range and freedom than a longer life being locked up all the time. Hope that makes sense. Again, so sorry. I shed tears over chickens so I know it hurts and makes you mad at the same time.

    1. Think I'm agreeing with your philosophy, Lori. Although the girls are just beginning to get over this latest trauma and even wanting to come out (writing a post about that...) Same with you after the dog incident?