Last Friday we lost our sweet chicken Opal to a coyote. The chickens and goats were free ranging out in the backyard when I heard a bit of a ruckus. I looked out the window just in time to see the goats running one direction and a coyote running the opposite way, into the woods with a gray chicken in its mouth. My heart dropped and I tore out of the house in my slippers, jumped the deck rail and ran after them yelling at the top of my lungs, but it was too late. After an extensive search, all we found were a bunch of her feathers out in the woods.
I know this is nature and the way of life, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting. Opal was by far my favorite chicken, and one of our original four. A giant fluffy bundle of sweetness, she hatched out seven baby chicks last spring and was the best mama chicken we’d ever seen.
This means we are no longer free ranging any of our animals, which makes me very sad. I loved seeing all of the animals out grazing in the yard, and it’s so much healthier for them to eat a natural foraged diet. The chickens are now locked up in the chicken yard and the goats and ducks are secured in the pasture. We can’t risk losing any of the goats, especially with babies coming in the near future. They can still be out in the yard if I’m with them, but never alone. As we’re in the middle of a soggy February, that won’t be happening much for now.
The day after it happened, we were outside and saw a bald eagle fly up and perch on one of the tall cedars bordering our yard. It watched me and our chickens for several minutes before flying away. At least I can feel secure that they are locked up and with the net on the top of their yard, no bird of prey should be able to get to them.
I wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures of Opal as a tribute. R.I.P., sweet girl. You will be greatly missed.