December 1st popped up on the calendar this week and as I got out of bed on that very morning, my thoughts were hopeful – anticipating a month of love, good cheer and magic. The Mariah Carey Christmas album had been playing for two weeks already, but that switch from November to December meant that it was officially the Christmas season and I was feeling dreamy about it.
And then I went outside to check on the chickens.
The large coyote standing beside the chicken coop was the first ominous sign that my hopeful morning would have to face the realities that come with farming – realities that don’t pause for cheerful calendar dates. I ran towards the coyote, arms a-waving, shouting at it to scram, terrified that it had seen my cats slip out of the trailer with me and was scheming up a way to have them for breakfast.
As it ran, then paused to look at me, then ran, then paused, and so on, I found myself chasing it to the very back of the property before it disappeared into the trees. Although the whole chasing affair probably took less than 60 seconds, I realized as I was running that what I really wanted to do was to stop and look at the coyote and try to befriend it…
On a farm, predatory animals cannot be befriended. I know this, but the Jane Goodall animal lover side of me wants to have it all – affectionate cats, playful dogs, friendly chickens and a mysterious trust between human and coyote. Not gonna happen. I know that. But it would be so awesome if it could.
Anyways, back to the whole ‘no photo for a reason’ title to this post… After chasing off my non-coyote friend, I rounded up my cats and locked them in the trailer so I wouldn’t have to worry about them. Then I went back to the chicken coop. Then I discovered Sally.
Sally was our red hen (and our only egg layer so far). I hadn’t been able to find her the night before when I went to lock all the chickens in their coop (by all, I mean our remaining 5 – and now 4) and my hope was that she’d just been hiding in the long grass in their run. It took me awhile to spot her in the morning light, but discover her I did. Poor Sally was in pieces and it wasn’t pretty.
I couldn’t figure out what had gotten her because although the coyote had been hanging around, there was no way that it could have gotten into the run. I let the farm family know and it remained a mystery until Matt told us that he had seen a hawk fly out of the run with her the day before. He figured it had gotten all of her (since they apparently usually take their whole kill when they make one) so he hadn’t checked out the scene, but unfortunately the hawk had left some of her behind to greet me on that first magical day of December.
Merry Christmas to the hawk I guess.