RIP Irma :(
Sad day today- we lost our first lady. I let the chickens out to free range in the morning, as we are supposed to get wet, heavy snow this afternoon and into tomorrow. Figured I'd give them some time to stretch their legs while my husband and I went to the grocery store.
We got home, and it was slightly odd that the chix weren't waiting in the driveway, near the garage, where they usually hang out. I went around to the coop, and counted up three. Missing one of the barred rocks- the head lady in charge. Two were huddled up together on the roosting bar, and the other was hiding in the corner.
Knowing it wasn't right that one would be off on her own, I went out behind the garage where I had last seen them digging around the patch of new grass. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner, I saw a huge brown hawk fly straight up out of a swirling storm of black and white feathers. My girl Irma was down, half pulled apart on the hillside. Such a sad sight. My husband helped me move her back down into the woods, as there were a lot of crows around waiting their turn. I did manage to grab a few of her beautiful feathers before they got too wet in the snow.
I'm just kicking myself for leaving them out, although frankly, I let them free range for a few hours every day. I was definitely being a little naive that I didn't have to worry about predators until it got warmer and the four-legged critters came back out. I truly didn't think a hawk could take a chicken that big, and from following the blood trail through the snow from the top of the hill down towards the bottom where she stopped, it's clear that she was dragged along, so it must have been a struggle for the hawk.
I know this is part of having animals- any animals- but man, it does hurt. RIP little Irma- you were a good leader to your girls and a great addition to our family, even though our time together was short.