Hearing Mr. Millie throw in a few random squawks with his crowing in the mornings is nothing new. He’s a vocal boy and the language he uses to guide and protect his girls has never ceased to amaze me. The dynamic between a rooster and his hens is pretty darned cool and Millie’s desire to both protect and show them affection by alerting them to an especially fat worm he has found or the rose petals he has dislodged from one of my rose bushes has always been incredible. Even when I am dishing out Grubblies, he never takes one until the ladies have had theirs.
But this morning I could tell something was vastly different.
I had given Rayna and her babies some free range time this morning, not something I normally do, but I feel like her current living situation isn’t as great as the others so she deserves some extra time. And I had done it yesterday.
Millie, of course, voiced his opinion as I headed back up the yard while everyone else remained in their own run. And, of course, not one to gloat, Rayna promptly took Maddie and Daphne over to a spot of grass just outside Millie’s house.
But the frenetic honking I heard as I sat inside the house watching the weather preparing to go get ready for work, was incessant, frantic, goose-like, a very serious call to attention. Alarmed I dashed out onto the back deck, but a rare clear sky had the sunrise blinding me and I couldn’t immediately see the chicken yard.
As I stepped to the top step of the deck, shielding my eyes from the sun…a bushy-tailed red fox dashed across and into the bamboo woods.
I ran across the yard as fast as I could.
Everyone quieted once I arrived. Rayna stood unscathed in the middle of the chicken yard. Maddie and Daphne were nowhere to be found.
Rayna was clucking, consistently, but not alarmingly and she was looking into the yard towards the house.
I shooed her into her run and shut the door as I offered her a million apologies for failing her. She turned and stood at the door, clucking, still looking toward the house.
Clearly I missed what she was trying to tell me. I walked all around the coops, looking for evidence of the babies, thinking maybe the fox got one, but surely not both, but they are still so tiny, so maybe.
Tiny little peeps sounds filled the air every now and then, but like I’ve said before, I always think I hear peeps. Occupational hazard of being a chicken mom.
I hung my head. I know this is a risk I take because I do free-range my chickens as much as I can…and I’ve been remarkably lucky. More than half of the residents of this street own chickens and every single one of us free-ranges at times. And everyone – except me so far, unless you count the one to my own Redbone Coonhound – has lost a chicken to a predator. It isn’t an if, but a when. That doesn’t make it feel any less like crap, or me any less like a bad chicken mom.
“Rayna, I am so, so sorry,” I said to her over and over.
Still not raising any sort of alarm her clucking at me was increasing with annoyance. “Stupid human, quit apologizing and pay attention to me.”
I heard those tiny peeps again. Wishful thinking I thought and then caught something out of the corner of my eye.
Maddie and Daphne were rushing toward me from the main yard! “Babies!!!” I squealed.
They are still small enough to fit through the weld wire fencing and my inclination is that Rayna urged them to go that direction. The grass by the fence is not cut short and they can disappear in there. But they went all the way through the fence and hid themselves among the clover near a butterfly bush.
I thanked God for looking out for them and then I opened the door to Millie’s coop and gave him a big hug and thanked him for being such an amazing roo…he bit me.
I love that bird!