We love our chickens. Really. And that means we were all freaked out and shaky when, during Javi's 10th birthday party, we heard a horrible shrieking coming from the back yard.
The Mountain Man ran out with the BB gun and found Here's Your Last Chance Fancy Don't Let Me Down wedged between a fence post and the corner of our house ... with a huge brown hawk attached to her back trying to pull her out. After a brief tug-of-war, the hawk flew up to a branch and watched us try to calm Fancy down (and find a safe place for her to hide).
Then MM tried to scare the hawk off with the BB gun, but the thing didn't even flinch. After traumatizing everyone involved, it finally flew off and left us hopeful that the Fancy and Lulu would both be safe until we did what we didn't want to do -- cage the chickens.
We love having free range chickens. They hang out on the front steps, greet us in the front yard when we come home, bang on the deck doors when they want a treat. It's like having a pet. But when your pets keep getting picked off, you have to do what you can to protect them.
Unfortunately, Fancy hasn't handled the transition from free range to cage very well. Losing her freedom, combined with the stress of almost being eaten by a hawk, has caused her to lose most of her tail feathers and a hunk of her back feathers. She's lost weight and gotten even more skittish around humans. In short, she's pitiful -- especially when compared to how large and glorious she was when we first brought her home.
Lulu, on the other hand, is proving to be our survivor. Where Fancy is falling apart, Lulu is stunning in both size and color despite the frigid cold and multiple snows she's endured so far this winter. Fancy makes us feel like failures, but one glance at Lulu and we want a whole other brood of chicks come spring.
Life with chickens continues to go up and down, but I suppose there's a balance in there. And the girls seem to like the safety of their coop. We opened the door this weekend to allow them so free range time and they refused to come out. I'm taking that as a sign that though roaming free is no longer a real option, at least they enjoy the home we've given them.
And I've been told Fancy's feathers will grow back. Bless her heart.