Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." -- Isaac Asimov

Fifi, the white Silkie hen, went missing this week. All we've found are clumps of fluffy white feathers in a long trail leading away from her favorite egg-laying spot towards the fence. She had taken to laying her eggs near the old apple tree in a little leafy spot she created just for that purpose instead of in the chicken house. It was off to one corner of our field-fenced backyard, away from where the other backyard girls and chicks typically hang out.

Our neighbor's farm pond hosts a fox den. He can watch the kits play there every spring. We've heard the local band of coyotes howl on the other side of the field behind us -- maybe 1/2 mile away. DH surprised what he thinks was a speedy coyote in the fenced backyard late one evening. Andy, the guardian llama, makes sure the sheep are up near the open barn when it's time to turn in at night. He positions the sheep between the barn and himself so he's always on guard. DS and I found a young skunk in the chick pen and, on another occasion, a full-sized skunk inside the electric poultry netting when we went out to close the houses up earlier this summer. We had a feral orange cat this summer who tried to catch the small chicks on occasion. There are predators all around us.

But secretly I've always believed they wouldn't kill any of our animals. You know, I suffered from a variation of the NIMBY or not-in-my-backyard syndrome even though earlier this summer, Petrock Trelawney's hatchmate, a little cockerel who wasn't around long enough even to secure a name such as Stewpot or Potpie went missing, too. We never found feathers or any sign of what happened to him but he and Petrock (photo on left) had developed the bad habit of hanging back instead of going straight into the house at night. DS and I would have to shoo the two of them in, sometimes resorting to waiting till they had settled into a bush or low-hanging tree branch then plucking them off their perch and stuffing them in the house. One night we couldn't find the cockerel. Either he was well-hidden (to us, at least) or he'd already been nabbed. Whichever way, he was still missing come morning so we concluded he had been devoured by some hungry animal.

Fifi will be much missed. She was the best mama hen we've had. Regularly setting on a hatch even in the coldest weather. Always shepherded her fledglings with the stereotypical "mother hen" approach. She stood up to the "big girls" and kept them from bothering her chicks. Even taking on Turkey, the naked neck hen and backyard leader, for their sake. Fifi's sometimes feisty attitude towards other chickens, her blue bill and earlobes (typical of Silkies) and her general cocky yet friendly stance towards us, her people, made her stand out amongst the other backyard girls.

At not quite 6 months old, her daughter, Snowball, hasn't yet shown any indication of broodiness or the strong personality Fifi exhibited but I hope she grows to fill the space her mother left not only in our hatching scheme but in my heart. I miss Fifi. We all do.

1 comment:

sue said...

Oh, NO!! Fifi is beautiful, too. How sad, Carolyn! I feel bad, and I've not even met her. That's a perfect accompanying quotation for this incident, too, I'm afraid. My condolences. I'm glad you got some wonderful photos of her... Nature can be cruel sometimes.