Chickens in the Country

Chickens in the Country

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Yesterday was one of those days.  I woke up late and groggy, having spent several middle-of-the-night hours up, in back pain and unable to sleep.

I had a cup of coffee, which helped.  The weather was beautiful, cold, clear and sunny, which helped, too.  I thought it would do me good to take advantage of it and go fill the bird feeders.  Days like this can be rare in Oregon in December.

The chicken coop is not far from one of the feeders, but it was eerily silent.  Considering how much racket those hens usually produce, that silence immediately had me steeling myself.

So, reluctantly, I trudged over there and was horrified by what I found.

Something had dug a hole deep under the fencing and gotten in there, slaughtering every last one.

We have lost chickens in the past, but only the feathers left on the ground were proof that they had been taken.  These hens weren’t so lucky; they were all there.  I literally felt sick to my stomach.

When I got back into the house, I noticed that the compost jar I keep on the kitchen counter was full.  Maybe if I put it in the coop yard, a few surviving chickens might come out of their hiding places inside.

Only one emerged.  I felt very happy but also very sad for the lone survivor.

I realize that chickens have brains the size of a lentil.  But they are flock animals and therefore, social creatures.  It was heartbreaking to see this one gal, all alone.

Ugh.  Owning pets can certainly be heartbreaking, but even livestock can really get to you.  I am no farmer, that’s for sure, and neither do I pretend to be.

I knew I had to go out there and plug that hole, so I did my best, and said my prayers that whatever had dug its way into the coop yard wouldn’t come back that night.

When my son told me I should’ve gone in there and removed all the murdered birds, I told him he was out of his blanking mind.  (That’s not actually what I said).  As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the reasons the Good Lord invented husbands.  Bill came home around 8:00 and took care of the chickens and blocked the hole further.  So far, so good; knock on wood.

When my husband reinforces the coop fence, I want to find another chicken for my hen to hang with.  I figure plenty of people get rid of their hens when they stop laying.  We had one old gal who lived to the ripe old age of 8 and she hadn’t laid an egg in years.  We didn’t mind; her name was Henrietta, and she followed me everywhere.  One day, while I was weeding the large flower garden in the back, she quietly stayed nearby, pecking away.  Awww, I thought at the time.  She really likes me.

Then I laughed as it occurred to me: well, yeah, she likes me, alright, but she REALLY likes the worms I’m digging up for her!

On Being PreparedAnyway, I was really, really shaken up when I came back into the house.  I went to phone Bill, who was at work.  And then, when I thought my morning couldn’t get any worse, my new phone wouldn’t turn on. I swear to God, I actually prayed for a miracle.  I tried to recharge it.  I would hold down the power button for a minute or two.  Phone CPR didn’t work.  It was gone, gone, gone.  Another $400 gone.  (But, maybe it was still under warranty?)

Last week I needed a new crown.  Then the car acted up and had to go into the shop and the news wasn’t good.  And now I had a dead phone.

Without a phone and car, I am left here, out in the middle of nowhere, all alone and unable to speak to my two daughters, who call several times a week.  It is a very lonely feeling, and I was feeling very, very sorry for myself.

Then, this morning, our neighbor dropped by to invite us to a Christmas open house on Saturday.  She is a real doll, raising two teenagers on her own.  Her life has not been easy, and this year she found out that the cancer she’d successfully treated many years ago had come back.

She told me she just had to raise her younger daughter.  That her ex-husband had married a nice lady “so that the girls would have a mom.”

Wow.  But that’s not I thought.  I won’t write what I thought.

I felt so small and petty and ashamed of myself.  Yeah, we have a number of difficult challenges in our lives; it hasn’t been an easy 15 years.  But this wonderful, brave mom was cheery and optimistic.  And her verve gave me the shakeup I needed.

Her scary ordeal certainly put my paltry problems in perspective, and that lesson couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  Whew.  I am grateful for her showing up to give me a much needed kick in the rear.  Instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong in our lives, I need to count my many blessings.

Maybe, if you’re feeling low today, this will help you, too.

Cheers!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!




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