It has been pouring rain for several days. When I took the kids to school Friday morning I told them that I was 99% sure that soccer practice would be cancelled and 99% sure that the Cub Scout Camping trip would be cancelled but that meant I was 99% sure we could go out to dinner as a family and go see the new movie "Epic".

I was right - everything was cancelled that day and it was still bucketing down when the kids got home from school. I checked on movie times and we arranged to meet Rick at P.F Chang's for dinner. We had a great time out as a family & seeing the movie.

We arrived home around 9pm. It was still pouring and pitch black outside. J&J had fallen asleep in the car on the way home. I asked Emily to take Millie out and Rick to take Jacob & I would take Jane. We all hurried into the house, we got the Little's settled into bed and then Em into bed too. I am Em's lacrosse team manager and we had a CONNY Tournament the following day at Yale. The rain had necessitated a bunch of changes to the fields available and game schedule, so I spent a little while sending out e-mails and updates to the team. I cleaned up a little bit downstairs and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Rick called out from bed "Did you check on the chicks?" "Why" I asked. He replied that he could hear a lot of squawking. I ran downstairs and grabbed a flashlight on my way. We had moved them into the garage a few days earlier. They were getting so stinky in my office. They had the brooder lamp still outside, and I had put a mesh net over the brooder box to keep them from hopping out. The weather was getting warmer and the garage is warmer than outside, so I figured they'd be fine.

As I opened the door to the garage, I noticed the net was off. Then I saw that the big garage door had been left open. Oh no, I thought, they got out. I looked in the brooder and there were NO chicks. Rick had followed me downstairs and I heard him ominously say "Tania ...." I looked around and saw that he was pointing to blood and feathers on the garage floor. My heart sank! I ran into the rain and searched around in the dark with the flashlight. I couldn't see anything. Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting to find. Would I have wrestled a chick from a fox or raccoon??

I headed back into the garage and we found Brooke hiding behind the garage shelves. We caught her and put her back in the box. I searched under the cars and behind everything with the flashlight hoping to find more but to no avail. We made sure the garage was secure and went to bed where I sobbed and sobbed. I knew the kids would be devastated in the morning and dreaded breaking their hearts. I felt awful that we had stewardship over those poor little chicks and had let them down. What an awful way to die! We thought it was probably raccoons. We didn't think a fox would be brazen enough to enter the garage. I was mad at Rick and blamed him for not closing the garage door down (he swore he had.) It was a sad night.

I broke the news to the kids as soon as they woke up. I didn't want them to go outside and see that only 1 was there. They were really upset and there were more tears. Emily said that Dad HAD closed down the garage but as she was coming in with Millie, the dog had run under the closing door & the sensor had made it go back up. She hadn't thought it was a big deal and had just come inside.

She went outside to see Brooke and burst back in through the mudroom door calling "MOM, OPAL IS ALIVE!!!"
We rushed to the garage to see that Opal was indeed in the garage and hiding under one of the cars. I carefully backed one out, then we shooed her and backed out the other & we caught her and put her back in with Brooke. I have no idea where that little chick was hiding. I had searched all over the night before.I was thinking she might have even huddled somewhere outside and then come back in that morning when I opened the door. Wherever she was hiding, I am sure glad she was there!

A hard lesson in having animals learned by us all. Emily was the most upset, so I left it up to her to decide if she wanted to replace them right away or wait until next Spring. She said we could get new chicks ... so on we go.

Here are a few pics I took days before "the tragedy."





Corinne said...

A hard life lesson to learn. I hope the new chicks are growing well.

Ruth said...

Oh that is SO sad! Glad two survived anyway. Love the pictures.

NessaAnn said...

Awwwww, sad day. Really, I think this is one of the BEST things about chickens. You can give the kids real responsibility with real world consequences that hit home. But in the end, it's just a chicken :) So far we haven't lost any, but we've had a few "opal incidents" and Jed cried buckets and buckets over his negligence leaving the coop unlocked. Now he is SO diligent and does all the chicken chores without being asked. I know these are life lessons that will, truly, last a lifetime!