Bad News

Frankie’s mom taught her to try lots of new things.

My chickens free-range. This means I let them out of the coop around 7:00 every morning, and they spend their days scratching in the dirt and chasing bugs. Around 6:00 in the evening, they put themselves back in the coop, and I close the door behind them.

They’re happy chickens, and they are very predator-savvy. We do have hawks, the occasional fox, and raccoons every night. We also have crows, who normally follow the foxes through the woods and call out a warning when they’re near. The chickens listen for this warning, and they’re quick to head for the coop, or for a tree, whenever it sounds.

Once in a while, a fox gets past the crows.

Frankie is fine, but a fox got her mom. I was right there, but it grabbed her so quickly, I couldn’t get to her on time.

Frankie was already pretty bonded to me, so now she insists on riding on my shoulder everywhere I go. She will sit in my pocketbook if she’s well-fed and sleepy. I feel like a poor Paris Hilton – a pocketbook chicken in place of a froofy dog.

I feel just awful about Frankie’s mom. She was a good girl – the hen who adopted another orphan chick last year. Most hens won’t do that, but she was a consummate mom. She’d take any chick and raise it as her own.

Frankie checks out the purple muck bucket while her mom stands watch.


Frankie spent a great deal of time looking at that muck bucket. Mom finally got bored and wandered off.

Frankie finally had enough of the bucket.

Frankie, showing off all the new skin and feathers she’s grown on her face.

On her first day without her mom, Frankie went with me to coffee with my writer friends. Then she had a few hours in the yard, with me digging worms for her. And then, she insisted on being in my massage room while I had a (very understanding) client.

Tonight, I brought in the other chick. She, like Frankie, is weeks away from weaning age. But one orphan chick is a sad thing, and two, well, they’re already getting to like one another. And I think the other little chick is happy not to have to compete for her food.

They’re quiet now, both wrapped in little blankets under a heat lamp. And the other mom seemed happy to be able to sit all the way down on her perch rather than having to hover above her chick.

We’ll see how they do tomorrow. For now, all is as well as it can be.

Frankie’s on her own now. Luckily she’s a demanding chick. She won’t let me leave her alone for a minute.



5 thoughts on “Bad News

    • Thank you, Ann. She and her new little friend are chowing down on cheese this morning. I’ll get to work making them a little chicken tractor so they can safely forage together later.

  1. Oh Nancy I’m so sorry to hear about Frankie’s mum. When I saw the title I was so sure something had happened to Frankie that I had to read the bit about her mum twice before it sank in 😦

    That poor little chick is so unlucky and yet so very lucky at the same time. You’re a good mother hen.

  2. I’m like acflory–when I saw the title of this post I was afraid to read it, because I was so afraid something had happened to Frankie. This of course is the second worst thing. (And now I feel guilty for even saying that.)
    I assume you have owls too,which are scary, but the chickens are probably safe from them since they are in their coop (or in the house!) at night.
    I’m completely amazed at the level of bonding Frankie has with you! I would never have dreamed a chicken could do that. Of course, everything I know about chickens until now, would fit in a thimble. Hopefully she will eventually gain some independence, since I can picture it becoming a little burdensome to carry a full grown chicken around on your shoulder, even if it’s a small chicken πŸ™‚ Plus, you would have to get a bigger purse πŸ™‚

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