2:00 in the morning and we hear a commotion outside. Thinking it’s a cat we start to doze off again only to be immediately startled back to consciousness by the unmistakeable sound of turmoil in the chicken coop. Grabbing a flashlight and the dogs, Mark and I run outside and see the chicken coop literally shaking, chickens screaming, dogs barking, and then stillness. The dogs continue to bark and we quickly go to the front of the coop and see a chicken huddled in the corner. After shining our flashlights around and seeing nothing, we go into the garden to the back of the coop and see a lifeless pile of chickens laid out by the watering trough. As we shine our lights on each chicken I am struck by the lack of blood -- nothing except a small trickle from one.
Five hens in that pile. One hen left unscathed. My little brood is destroyed. Sadness engulfs me. I am strangely attached to these little birds. But then as I am starting to turn, I see one of the fallen hen’s chests still moving, still breathing, and a faint glimmer of hope stirs. I look closer. Maybe. Just maybe I will have 2. I can’t bring myself to clean up what has happened just yet, deciding to wait until the morning, and as I fall asleep I send up a little prayer for two live chickens.
We have been hit by coyotes, but we interrupted their hunt, so they leave with nothing. A little later, as I am falling asleep, I hear them howl, having finally found their dinner.
In the morning I return to the scene and see one chicken walking around -- and one chicken huddled in the corner. I worry that she is injured, but when I walk into the coop she jumps up and runs to the other side. Two chickens. My prayer was answered. A small, seemingly insignificant victory, but I’ll take it.
Over the next few days, I fortify the chicken coop, the two survivors recover, and I convince myself that two hens will be fine. I don’t need six. But as the days continue I change my mind. Two seems so empty. I want six. So today I got 4 babies and put them in the chick nursery in my coop and watched as the older two peaked in to see what all the ruckus was about. The babies are all huddled together next to the wire side of their little nursery and one of the hens sits there with them on the other side. Watching.
And then on Wednesday, there was the water. Not from the sky -- that would be wonderful. But rather, from the irrigation that was left on for way too long and flooded the second field. It wasn’t enough though, that the plants were practically underwater. No. Rammus the dog felt the need to play in the resulting mud and dig as many holes as his little paws would allow, yanking out plants as he went. Mud everywhere...on Rammus, on plants, on the path, ultimately in the house. All I could do was laugh. I tried to save the plants I could, but in the end lost 8 more plants. Thankfully I have baby plants growing in my garden and have filled the gaping holes. If this field survives it will be a minor miracle.
Such is life. Sometimes we lose what is dear to us, sometimes we are covered in mud, sometimes we find hope in small victories. Always we continue on.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife, English teacher, writer, and lavender farmer who lives in Dundee Oregon .