The Circle of Life

There is a saying about raising animals that goes like this, “If you are going to have livestock, you are going to have dead stock.” We have been relatively lucky in that we have had very few losses but luck was not on our side this morning. When I went out to feed the animals I found this. From the deck above, I spotted a trail of chicken feathers along the fence starting at a point under the house in the crawlspace and ending several yards away. I knew instantly what had happened. A group of chickens escaped into the donkey pasture through an open gate late yesterday afternoon. Michael thought he had rounded them up but apparently one was hiding. That would prove to be her undoing. There are predators that roam this area nightly and anything that isn’t locked up is in danger. The donkeys help but up by the house the problem is mostly raccoons, which I think is what was responsible for the loss of this little hen’s life. I searched the area thoroughly in case she was injured and hiding somewhere. There was nothing but the feather trail.

It is always sad to lose a life, even a little hen. I knew exactly which hen it was as I picked up feathers and saw the colors. She was a pretty girl, mostly white with a peach colored chest and black feathers in her wings and tail. I had two almost identical. Now I have one.

You can see them both on this picture, taken just yesterday, one next to the pig and the other running to the right of the emu.

Hoping I was wrong I went to the Icelandic coop to let the chickens out. I opened the screen door just enough so that only one at a time could exit. I counted them as they came out and as I feared, there were 22 instead of 23. I even recounted several times while they were eating scratch. Nineteen in the yard, one in the nestbox, and one broody with chicks.

There in front of me, peeking out from Mama’s protective wing was a sweet little chick.

I said a silent “Rest in Peace” to my little hen as the baby chick disappeared under Mamas’s wing. In a few months, when I count my chickens, this little chick will be number 23. It’s the circle of life.


Share Button
Follow me


Author at The Egg Farm
Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California
Follow me

Latest posts by Mary (see all)

About the Author


Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California


  1. Vickie Schafer says:

    I went out on our property early this morning. I found her torn open and half eaten. My Storey,s chicken book tells the different kill patterns of predators. It looks like it was a raccoon.

    My next door neighbor lost all of her chicks and all her setting eggs to a raccoon last summer. She thinks it lives in the few blackberry patches we have left. The chickens were foraging further and further into it’s territory. I just did not think it would attack in broad daylight. Also this hen was nervous and could move really fast. She was small while all my other chickens are big – a Partridge Cochin rooster, White Jersey Giant hen, Cuckoo Maran hen, and a New Hampshire Red hen. Like you said – the circle of life.

    I have a chicken house with a concrete floor with an attached pen. The fence is nailed to treated 2 inch thick boards going a foot deep and a foot above the ground. We put roof flashing with the sharp edge slanting up and outward on top of the fence. I know they are safe there but they loved going out and digging around the property.

    Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Vickie S. Kelso, WA.

  2. Vickie Schafer says:

    Yesterday my neighbor and I finally found some Americuana chicks. He bought 6 and I bought 2 pullets. Today when I went to close the door to the coop for the night my americuana hen was missing. It was too dark to look for her so I will take up that unpleasant task in the morning.

    Love the picture of the chick and her mother.

    Vickie S.
    Kelso, WA.

  3. RIP pretty little hen.

We Would Love To Hear From You!