….Of a Chicken!
It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining, giving warmth to the cool, damp, November morning. I had been away, not for more than a few hours. The welcome I received was as if a long, lost friend had returned from an extended absence.
There we were, my chickens and I, enjoying the warmth of the sun, basking in the knowledge that we were together again. Then it dawned on me, this flock of welcoming poultry were hoping that I had a bag of lettuce in my purse. But then, well, look what happened next…
Our reunion was interrupted as I went into the house. Within moments, I felt that I was being watched. I wondered from where the ever-present aura of watchfulness had sprung. Looking around, the culprit was exposed.
My fascination with the flock was diminished as the reality of three dogs standing around with their legs crossed, looking up at me with pleading eyes led me back outside. Truth be told, the canine drive for eliminating outside was truly a blessing to our feathered friends.
The following events happened in an instant in time, yet slowly played out in great detail in front of my eyes. As the four of us opened the garage and walked out to the world awaiting us, Penni my Great Dane, ran to the right. Glancing that direction, a dark veil draped over the bliss of the morning. There swooping down toward the tiny patch of grass in front of our porch on which our chickens had just been gathered, was a very large, brown bird. Stealthy and silent, the hawk was quickly approaching. As if in a choreographed dance, Benedict our rooster, caught sight of the danger and started stomping and clucking loudly, sending out the alarm. The hens responded quickly and headed for the cover of the porch. As the hawk reached, what I would consider the striking vicinity, it must have noticed the approaching freight train named, Penni. Without hesitation, the hawk effortlessly turned to the left, and with completely silent movements disappeared into the horizon. Penni ran toward the direction it flew, but it was so quickly gone.
Quickly counting heads I found all present and accounted for. Benedict was doing his own counting…
The flock stayed hunkered down for several minutes under the chairs on the porch.
They came out and resumed their foraging, however, remained a little more on edge. Happily everyone survived, but the hawk now knows our address…she will be back. And she was back…today. I think she got a bit closer this time because I found a lot of feathers…a lot of Buff Orpington feathers which means either from Benedict (rooster), or Claudio (hen.)
All the other hens are Rhode Island Reds. Seeing the hawk once again, I found the flock split into two different hiding places. They managed to get enough courage to come back together, and my kids and I wrangled them into the chicken house…we then closed the door for the rest of the night. It was time to just stay indoors and calm down. Once again, all were accounted for.
So the big question is now….free range, or corralled under cover. One, obviously, has a larger danger factor than the other…but it also holds more freedom, better tasting eggs, and the ability to welcome me home. They seem happier since being able to free range, but maybe a bit less relaxed. What would you choose?