Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Shepherd's Tears...

I'm sorry for not writing for so long. 
If you also check my chicken blog, you've got somewhat of an idea of what's been going on.

Last Tuesday, I lost my job.
I thought I handled that pretty well, emotionally.
I was even thinking that it was a blessing in disguise as I really was wasting my talents there.  (I was a customer service rep for a mail-order catalog company)  But, I enjoyed the work and was able to KNIT during slow times so it had some advantages that made me lax about looking for something better.  Now, I will have to.

When I got home, I tucked the chickens in for the night.  First the group that are staying in the garage for the winter.  These are my beautiful, "Calico Cochins" (the ones I used to refer to as "Candy Corn Cochins" ~ we've chosen an official name for them).  Each evening, I lift Opal and Crystal and Scarlet and Red (the rooster) off of the fence and place them on the sawhorse that they are  supposed  to roost on at night.  Candy has been brooding a clutch of eggs for almost three weeks so she stays in the covered cat litter box that I use for nest boxes. 

After putting the Calicos on their roost, I went out and closed the doors to the barn and tucked in all the Mille fleur cochins and my Backyard chickens.  It wasn't until I went back into the garage (which is attatched and has an entry door to my kitchen) that I saw it.

The  covered nest box that Candy and her soon to hatch eggs were in was flipped upside down and broken apart.  There was no sign of Candy or her eggs.
NOW I sobbed!   I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  My first thought was that Sadie (my treeing walker coon hound, that I had left "in charge" of the chickens) had attacked Candy in her nest box.  This was unfathomable because Sadie has shown NO aggressiveness towards the chickens at all!  I had left the gate to the Calico cochin pen open and the garage door to the back yard open because I left Sadie in the yard to watch over the chickens while I was gone.  That way my Calicos could get out and get some sunshine and free range.   I remembered that when  I got home, Sadie was no where around.  She had figured out another way to escape from the back yard. 

I frantically dug through the shavings in the Calico's pen, looking for eggs.  None.  All gone.  As was Candy.  At first, I was hoping and praying that she had somehow escaped and was hiding somewhere in the garage.  I crawled around on my hands and knees, holding a flashlight and pleading and sobbing, for her to be safe.  I searched the back yard and pastures.  No sign.  I searched for perhaps an hour and then went into the house and just cried.

Later that evening, Sadie came home.  She barked at the front door, as she always does, to be let in.  I lost it!  I ran out the door screaming at her.  I chased her down the driveway and when she followed me back up as I turned to go back into the house I chased her again.  Screeming and sobbing, I told to to go away and never come back.  I screamed that I hated her.  Sadie turned and left.

A nagging little voice said "what if it wasn't her?"  but I pushed it away.

The next morning ~ after a sleepless night, I searched again for Candy.  There was no sign.  Then it dawned on me.  No sign!  If Sadie had indeed been the one to attack Candy and her eggs, there would have been a body.  There would have been feathers all over the place.  But there was nothing.   A little bit of rational thought began to creep into my grief dulled mind:  perhaps Sadie got out of the yard BEFORE Candy was attacked and something else (a coon?) took advantage of the unprotected yard and took my beautiful Candy bird.  It still makes me sick to even think about it.

Now, I felt terrible for having screamed at Sadie and driven her away.  She didn't come home for two days!  I could hear her barking up in the woods.  I called her but she wouldn't come.  Finally, Thanksgiving night, she came home.  She was wet and cold and shaking.  I dried her with a towel and covered her with a blanket and laid next to her and petted her and told her how much I love her and how sorry I am for saying that I hated her.  I think she forgives me.

Although, I'm still mad at Sadie for leaving the yard unprotected, I can't really blame her for Candy's loss.  Any more that I can blame myself (and believe me I DID!) for not having brought Candy  and her nest box into the house like I had thought about, earlier on the morning that she was taken.  But I had decided to wait a day or two until I had a day off.  Now I have plenty of time off but no Candy.

I am always amazed by the amount of physical pain that results from a broken heart.

So, for days I spoke with no one.  I couldn't.  Every time I even thought about my beautiful Candy bird I just sobbed.  I didn't want to put anyone else through that.  Even the people that I knew would understand.  And I didn't want to cry anymore.  It HURT!

Little by little, I'm getting better.  On the same day that Candy was taken from me, my very first Mille Fleur Cochin egg hatched.  I've got a beautiful, little, fluffy chick that makes me smile and reminds me that life does go on. 

I believe that she was born on the same day that I lost my job and my very special Candy for a reason.  To reassure me that God had not forgotten me and that he does still love me and that I will be happy again. 

I've named her "HOPE"

I am doing daily updates of Hope's transformation as she goes from a fuzzy chick to a fluffy Mille Fleur Cochin on my Backyard Chickens blog.  If you don't see me here for a while, you can usually find me over there...

In the meantime:   I've started a Yahoo Group for "Calico Cochin" fans.  Candy is the "cover girl" and roll model for what we will be breeding for.  She may be gone, but she will NEVER be forgotten!

P.S.  this morning, I got an email from a member of the Mille Fleur Cochin Yahoo Group, offering to drive to Tennesee and pick up Sable and bring her home to me!
I am so deeply touched by the kindness of others.  Sable would be VERY good for my heart.

DREAM says...

"I don't like it when Mom's so sad that she doesn't even come out and sit with ME!"

I'm sorry Dreamer. 
I'll be out soon...


  1. Marilyn Westphal9:14 AM

    Thoughts have been with you.

  2. The hens are so vulnerable when they are sitting on nests and the predators know it. Yes, if your dog had killed the hen you would see feathers everywhere.

    Sure hate that you lost your job Nancy. I know the economy isn't booming but you wouldn't expect to be terminated from a mail-order company at Christmas shopping time.

  3. You might think about making nests for them that are up and off the ground. Skunks, foxes, coyotes and all manner of predators go for the low-lying nests of birds.

  4. Nancy, I'm sorry for the loss of both your chicken and your job. Those chickens sure have a way of wiggling into our hearts.
    I hope that company pays you unemployment.

  5. I am so sorry for you, Sadie and Candy. But I am glad Sadie came back, and you have a cute little chick Hope to enjoy.

  6. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I'm so, so very sorry for your loss of Candy and for your pain. It's deeply touching to see how much you love your's most startlingly clear when one falls... How true when we lose a beloved pet that it's "better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all." Your memories will always be bittersweet, but so much better than never having known her.

  7. Anonymous12:32 PM

    p.s. God bless you.

  8. Nancy you poor thing. What a lot you've had to go through all at once. Sending lots of love and hugs xxx

  9. Nancy, my heart aches for you and your trials and tribulations. Sometimes I wonder just how much we are expected to endure. That is sure a cute little chick!

  10. Nancy, so sorry you've lost your job/security and your little chicken.
    Best wishes as you start to look to the future and your next endeavor.

  11. I'm so sorry, Nancy. I can only imagine how you must feel. :( Don't forget that sheep are some of the best therapists around. They always make me feel better when I spend time with them.

  12. Anonymous7:53 PM

    I'm so sorry that you lost your job and your beautiful and beloved chickens. Just to let you know..ALL of my dogs have had a "learning curve" in learning to get along with my chickens. I consider all bad behavior on their part MY fault in that I didn't train them properly. Just so you know that Sable will take alot of work. I hope Sadie is doing ok. I cried when I read about her howling in the woods. She didn't understand it all.

  13. So sorry to hear about your job loss. I wish you all the best as you look toward the future in your job search. And my condolences on the loss of your hen and her eggs. Man, what an awful day that was! Hang in there. I'm glad you have Hope!

  14. {{{hug}}}

    If I can help shuttle your pup from Tennessee, let me know. We can all take a "leg".

  15. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Wishing you a better job, Nancy. So sorry to read about losing your chicken. I know you love your animals deeply.
    Diane L./Bloomington,IN.

  16. Oh Nancy -what a horrible day you have had. But I agree -your little chick was brought to you for a reason.
    Remember - when one door closes - another opens.
    I send you hugs and good wishes - may much goodness come your way.

  17. Anonymous2:09 PM

    Nancy - I am so very sorry to hear of your job loss. And to lose your beloved hen on the same day is just so much to handle. I'm glad you are now able to share your sadness with others. And I am certain that Sadie still loves you.

  18. I've missed you, and now I understand why you didn't feel like blogging. Candy was a beauty, and maybe Hope will bloom as well. I have only a cat companion, but I've lost many beloved animals over the years and it is always hard. Have you checked out Pam's nest boxes at Life on a Southern Farm?

    Best wishes for better days,
    Nancy in Iowa

  19. nancy,
    so unbelievably sorry for your loss of candy. my mom told me awhile ago and i want to apologize for not getting on here sooner to let you know i've been thinking of you.

    as my mom says: "that's life on the farm". that doesn't make it any easier i know. but do know that you gave candy lots of love and a wonderful home during her precious chicken life. for that i'm certain she is grateful.

  20. Nancy, I was so very very sorry to hear not only about the hen and chicks, but your job. That really sucks.
    But did you ever stop to think that maybe Sadie was gone because she was doing her job and chasing whatever got the hen and eggs?

    You're in my prayers that things get better and soon.

  21. That thought had ocurred to me Kathy. Even though it seemed mighty unlikely that any animal would come INTO my yard with a dog in it. The only way into the garage (when the overhead door is shut, as it always is) is through the door into the backyard. That is where Sadie was. I was still willing to believe it wasn't Sadie, based on the lack of a body ~ until six days later when she killed one of my roosters in the backyard. I actually SAW her with the bird in her mouth! Sadie has shared the yard with the chickens for years and never even looked at them funny. When I left the gate to the pen in the garage open ~ with Candy in a nest box ~ that was the first time she'd ever had the opportunity to see a chicken that 'couldn't defend its self'. I'm quite sure that it was indeed Sadie that killed Candy and now that she's tasted chicken, she'll just go right on killing. I took her to the pound on Wednesday. That, in and of its self, broke my heart because I've had Sadie for 12 years and really did love her. But I can't get the image of Candy sitting on those eggs that were due to hatch any day, out of my mind...

  22. Aw, Nancy...sorry to read about Sadie. Yup. Once a dog gets the taste of chicken AND a thrill out of killing them, as hard as it is, other arrangements have to be made if you still want to have chickens. I do hope Sadie finds a good home. She's lucky. If it had been here, the solution would have been a different one I'm afraid.
    Let's hope things get better soon. And watch for this's been a real corker! We got 30 inches.



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