The Chicken Tragedy

Monday January 2, 2012


Chicken TragedyWe suffered our first chicken tragedy over the holiday weekend. Matt came home from work to find all three chickens gone with evidence of a struggle. Quite a sad scene! Feathers everywhere, a few bloodstains, and a small hole torn through the chicken wire.


He woke me with the news. In my drowsiness, my first instinct was callous, "Oh less thing to worry about. They were starting to get on my nerves, anyway." Of course, I didn't say that out loud, and I quickly remembered the children and their attachment, the fulfilling fruitfulness of getting our own eggs from our own hens, and the pride I'd felt when they first began to recognize me. (At the time, I thought their excitement was a demonstration of grand respect. I soon realized they were just excited about the potential for a treat from our table leftovers, or an extended release to graze in the yard.)


On the positive side, two of the hens (Eden's and mine) had become a little aggressive (mostly with each other). We suspect that Eden's chicken had been scarred at chickhood when (I later discovered) she had been given "roller coasters." Frightening thought! The bird was cranky and often downright rude.


My chicken was ugly, and I don't think she ever started laying eggs (though we can't be 100% on who was the non-layer). We'd talked of slaughter in the spring if she continued to fail to produce. (It's frustrating to know that our dinner became the fox's free lunch, but then again, I guess they have to eat, too...and continual development makes that a continual problem.)


I'm not overly sad to lose the two aggressive birds.


Our first chickensBut Xander's chicken...she was the most beautiful bird I'd ever seen. And she had a wonderful disposition! Tender, sweet, not annoying at all. I mean, really...I'm not a huge animal fan...but I enjoyed this bird! When I saw the seen of struggle and imagined them being helplessly attacked in the night, it is Xander's chicken for whom I felt the most remorse. Poor birds!


I had to break it to the girls. They took it surprisingly well. Xander cried. I expected it. She is my tender-hearted, nature girl (and she had the best bird).


I woke them and explained that I had some very sad news. "Something broke into our coop last night and stole all of the chickens." I let the thought sink in a minute. "It's a very sad thing. It's okay to be sad, but we are going to choose to have faith and try to stay positive."


I let them ask a few questions, and I did my best to answer them. Then, we prayed. I prayed that God would restore our hearts from the sadness and anger at losing our animals. I prayed that he would help us cope through it.


Then, I tried to guide them to a positive way of thinking. "We are going to learn from this. Daddy is working on a plan to fix the coop so it can't happen again, and we are going to get new chickens in the spring. I know it's going to be hard to wait, but we are going to have to choose to be patient. When spring comes, we'll get to pick out new baby chicks, and that will be fun."


I let them choose whether or not to view the scene. I warned them it was kind of sad. Both of them looked out a window which gave a decent view. Neither have been out back yet, and I've encouraged them to avoid it for awhile.


It is my strategy always to deal honestly and be as genuine as I can with the kids...without overwhelming them with unnecessary detail. I try to give them a condensed, whole picture and share my experiential learning with them. I try to encourage them to be honest about their emotions, yet I attempt to sway them from negative focus. Everything is a balance, and I don't always do it right...but this experience, though I would have liked to avoid it, helped us learn and grow and become more capable in keeping our faith in the midst of a fallen world.






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Suggested Books

  • Backyard Harvest by Jo Whittingham
  • Grow Organic by the organization "Garden Organic"

  • Farm City by Novella Carpenter

Suggested Movies

  • Food, Inc.
  • Homestead Blessings

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