Last week as I processed the pearl-sized loss of my goldfish I got hit with another small loss. On the anniversary of my dad’s passing, my sweet Tinkerbell was taken from the coop by raccoons. Tink was a beautiful bantam Buff Brahma that we acquired in June 2016. A result of a very cruel senior prank at Emily’s high school. The seniors thought it would be cute to release baby chicks, chickens, and other animals on the campus. I am not sure what happened to all the animals, but our family adopted two bantam chickens to add to our crew. Siouxsie, a Frizzle Cochin that had wild feathers that went every which way. She reminded me of a punk rocker from the 80s.
Many of you may not know that for years we ran a sort of urban farm in our backyard. Our yard, complete with a swimming pool and deck, also housed several chickens, a garden, and a compost station. I was not down for any of it, except the chickens. My friend was tired of being the only one in the family to care for her chickens, so she decided to rehome them. Todd and I jumped at the chance to have chickens. She gifted us with the coop, food, and 3 lovely hens. These chicks quickly changed the landscape of our yard. Todd continued to grow the space they could consume in the yard. He built a shed to store all the “stuff” that comes along with chickens, composting, and crops (well, a small garden of yumminess).
For years we had more eggs than we could ever use in various colors and hues. Our family shared eggs with anyone who would take them. (I wish we had an abundance of eggs today!) We had 7 hens at one point. That was the first time the raccoons got in. I came home from work to a massacre. Tink and Siouxsie were hiding in the nesting boxes and were safe. Two of the hens were gutted and I was devastated. As I went to access the situation, I saw one of the hens walking but she was bleeding from her neck. I was trying to assess her condition when my neighbor yelled over the fence for me to look out. On top of the chicken coop was a large raccoon on his back legs hissing at me. He was less than two feet away. I grabbed the only thing I could find (a broom) and drove him away.
Thankfully, Todd arrived home soon after and took over triage, and cleaned up the scene of the crime. He and a few neighbors also went on a hunt to avenge the death of my girls, but the raccoon was sly and got away. The following weekend Todd completely enclosed the chicken area so raccoons could not get back in again. That seemed to work until this past week. I think the raccoons opened the nesting box and snagged her based on the evidence left behind.
Several years ago we gave up on the composting endeavor. We gathered more critters than this city girl was ready to interact with. A couple of years ago the garden was replaced with my sauna, pomegranate tree, some herbs, and a tiny lavender field. We decided not to replace the hens as they passed. All that was left of the urban farm was Tinkerbell and another chicken that I could not even name after the raccoon massacre. Now I am caring for a solo senior hen that is probably lonely and sad without her frenemy, Tink.
This week brought back lots of memories that have been buried. I often share that I am grateful when a lost memory trickles up from the archives. It is comforting. I am also reminded that change is the only thing that is certain. Seasons change and our circumstances change. As the season of caring for a plethora of pets closes it opens the door to a new season in my life. I am excited to live my next adventure.