Our eleven chickens are having a fairly uneventful fall season. After a fisher took four chickens over the course of two weeks this summer–raids that helped me put finishing the coop in the barn on the top of the list of things to do–our now slightly smaller flock has been enjoying the fall sunshine, pecking at the withering plants from the garden and laying lots of eggs.
And then, about three weeks ago, more trauma–this time a hawk that took the head off one of the hens and eviscerated the bird leaving a pile of feathers and a carcass split down the middle. Dinner for Zeus in the back field.
This week a hawk (the hawk?) returned. We arrived home and Rebecca said another pile of feathers and Ellinore and I came around the corner of the barn and in one of the bays was a beautiful silver-grey hawk preparing to rip the head off another chicken. The hen was on its back, clearly in a state of shock. Birds were all over the yard. Two were wedged head first between the stone wall at the back of the bay and one of the barn posts. The hawk flew off and I went looking for an axe to finish the job we had so impertinently interrupted. But Ellinore stroked the hen’s chest and it was if it came back to life. And, remarkably, the bird turned out to be fine. Pulling out the chickens wedged between the wall and the post was the biggest chore of the afternoon.
The next day not one of the hens was seen outside the coop. The day after that, as what one might call chicken memory began to dim, they lingered for a few hours close to the door. In the afternoon, in fact (when the hawks have come) they were back out in the yard.