We’ve had a chicken go missing.
I should say, we’ve likely had a chicken get killed.
In our fourth year of our little farm, this is our first loss to predation.
We love our chickens. Actually, we pretty much adore our chickens.
My husband told me from the time he met me that he would never in his life, ever.e.v.e.r.EHHH-VURRR have chickens.
Until his eldest, his little buddy, his My-Dad-Is-My-Hero firstborn thought maybe he might like to try raising chickens for 4-H.
So what’s a dad to do?
Get busy putting together a chicken coop of course.
And two years later, here we are, bushels of poultry experience under our belts and pecks of chicken manure in our boots. We’re tried and true farm fresh egg snobs to the death, and have been converted into constant watchers and worriers over a bunch of feathered personalities that dwell on our little ranch.
Our little laying flock of thirteen hens.
Well, twelve now.
Because Goldie’s gone.
And we don’t know what happened to her.
Goldie came to us one sunny late spring day just a couple weeks after the Orloff got squished, and hours after the rooster got killed. (His killing was not of the predatorial kind of death but rather what we here in Alaska call a Defense of Life and Property killing. Another blog post..and maybe too sensitive for the squeamish of heart. All you really need to know is that the Russian got flat, Lolly got dead, and my little guy was pretty tore up about the whole ordeal.)
In swoops my hero neighbor bff with a sweet little chick for my sweet little guy and he’s not quite ready to hold it on his own but he tries hard and pretty soon he’s sitting on a stump snuggling his sweet new baby hen and he names her Goldie because her feathers are gold like the sun Mom.
It took her a while to fit in with the older hens, but soon enough, Goldie was pecking right along with them like an old bird and acting like she had just as much right as any of them there old biddies to be here.
When my son did the twice-daily counts, he’d roll on down the list…Sweetie and Big Chicken, April and Gertrude, The Wyandotts, two Russians…
But she wasn’t at the head count on Monday and we still don’t know where she went.
The kids scouted and found some tracks and some wingbeats in the snow. That’s all we know of her fate. There was some kind of chase.
The wingbeats look to be hers, but who knows? Owls are a major predator of chicken. So are hawks.
Was she taken by a large bird?
Did a coyote get brave and ignore the smells of our dogs and come up to the barnyard and snatch her? Or did a fox, rare in our parts, sneak in for an easy breakfast?
We’ve pretty much ruled out neighborhood dogs, mostly because dogs tend to be messy and bumbly and would’ve made more mess and more noise.
Unless it was OUR dog. My fear is that my Annie decided to play chase with Goldie and rather than leave a bloody mess like dogs will do, she just injured her, forcing Goldie out into the woods, hurt and alone and cold.
My whole family is sure if that was the case, there would be a mess.
So what happened?
On the way to town the day she went missing, my son and I puzzled over it for thirty minutes straight. What could’ve happened? Why is there no kill site? No blood anywhere?
Where is our Goldie?
It was a horrible feeling and I know she’s just a chicken, but the mama in me and the caretaker in me and the farmer in me thinks of her out there in the cold -far below zero at night now- and I can hardly stand it.
So when I puzzle over it that night and give my husband the run down and fret over Goldie and then wonder out loud if this is what Jesus was talking about when the shepherd left the flock to go find that one lost sheep that had wandered away and state that maybe THIS is EXACTLY how Jesus feels when WE drift away from Him and the flock…my husband just looks at me and cocks his head a little bit and I can tell he’s trying to be sensitive and not break out laughing.
“Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of us being compared to a chicken.”
“Well. You know. Not really. But..kinda. She’s LOST.”
“All this talk about Jesus finding a lost chicken…honey you must’ve really liked that little chicken.”
Comparing our lost chicken to the lost sheep in the Bible might be a stretch.
It might be a little dramatic.
It might be a little womanly and hand-wringing and not-so-farmer-tough and making a big deal out of a small one.
But he’s right.
I kinda liked that little chicken.