After we bathed the babies and put them in bed, Jay went outside to put the chickens back in the coop. They had been out for about an hour, as usual. I was unloading the dryer when he stuck his head in the house.
"Bad news," he said. "Two hens are in the coop. I think the rest are dead."
I put on some warm clothes and went outside to help. I didn't do much more than walk the perimeter of the fence to see where the chicken-killer might have entered. Jay found ten chickens, some with their heads bitten off. That means that four are still at large. I'm assuming that the chicken killer(s) took the four missing chickens with them when they left. I have a call into our neighbor to see if his dogs might have brought home a chicken dinner.
They weren't pets. I didn't have a close, personal relationship with any of them. They were all, at some point, going to end up on my table. But I did save them vegetable scraps because it's nice to hear the sound of happy chickens. And I did chuckle when our pubescent roosters tried to crow. They were actually starting to sound respectable. And I did like to watch them run across the yard looking all chicken-y when they were let out for their late-afternoon romp.
We put a lot of money and wo/man hours into this project, and it's aggravating, maybe even infuriating, that it was all for naught. Jay's outside in the cold and dark trying to teach himself how to slaughter a chicken. I think it makes him feel like our investment wasn't in vain. Even if he makes a total mess he can still get some practice.
I kind of feel bad for the two hens that are left. Their pals are gone, and who knows what kind of trauma they went through watching everyone else get killed. Maybe there's some sort of chicken therapy we can get them in.
So this is the end of Round One of our chicken experiment. It didn't exactly turn out like we had planned.