|Oreo, Violet, and Clover|
Still.... I keep thinking that I'll see Gertie there by the back gate, looking for a way in. And maybe, just maybe, someone has them safely corralled in their yard, not knowing where they belong. We'll keep checking in with the humane society.
As M and I were walking to pass out fliers, M said, "It would almost be easier if some predator had eaten them. Then we'd know." That's how I feel, too.
Violet is now the big girl of the bunch, and dutifully laying her egg-a-day. She is noticeably more skittish about being picked up. Neither Bantams have laid an egg in the last few days, but they are older girls. When I go out to let them out of their coop, and open the door, I feel like the absence of the four hens is a tangible thing. Like the empty spaces are vibrant around the three hens that remain.
A few weeks ago, I finished reading "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer," By Novella Carpenter. It's a great book, and I enjoy her blog, Ghost Town Farm. In it she writes about her experiences with her urban farm in the city of Oakland, California. When I read about the loss of one of her turkeys to an accident with junk yard dogs, and the loss of her flock to predators, I was pretty impressed by her resilience. Like generations of farmers before her, she mourned her losses, then started again--whether it was with her ducks or her honeybees.
At the time I was reading about it, I couldn't imagine how that would feel.
But now, in this moment, I realize there's not much left to do but to move forward. Cluck Cottage has now become Coop Knox. We've added locks to the coop and run door, and have motion sensor lights in three locations. I still don't feel entirely safe. I glance out at the locked run all the time, mentally checking to see that the run door is still closed. I'm beginning to think I need a surveillance camera in the coop just so I can reassure myself that the three little hens are still there.
Adding locks and security may not completely ensure that the hens will be safe, but it is a concrete step to take, and a promise that there will be more hens--whether the lost girls come home again or not. I'm still very sad, but I also know that I wouldn't not have chickens in order to avoid the sorrow of losing them.
We let our little flock out into the yard, and find comfort in the way that they continue. Chickens may not grieve, but they sure do live in the moment, not looking backward with regret nor forward with fear, but enjoying exactly what is taking place now: some nice scratch grains, sunshine on their backs, and the pleasures of a late fall day.