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Fowl play

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 08, 2012

A few readers have asked how “City Gates” is different from our other blogs. That’s a fair question. We’re still experimenting a bit, as we sort out which ideas belong in which blogs. But the general idea is that “City Gates” is a forum for more informal ideas and the occasional reflection about what’s going on in our personal lives. The following, I trust, will be easily recognizable as something that just wouldn’t quite belong on any other part of the Catholic Culture site.

Have you ever noticed that everything eats chicken? If you keep any animal, you have to be concerned about possible predators. If you keep chickens, the list is virtually endless. Several years ago we lost a dozen chickens in a series of unfortunate encounters with raccoons, coyotes, weasels, a hawk, and finally a fishercat. The carnage was discouraging, and we lived without chickens for a while. But last year some friends were forced to give up their chickens, and the prospect of several good fresh eggs every day enticed us back into the business.

All was well until some unknown predator found its way into the shed that we have converted into a coop, and in the morning one of the chickens was missing its head. We made the same ugly discovery yesterday morning, and I spent my lunch hour doing some rough carpentry: putting another plank on the threshold, shoring up the door, tightening the chicken wire, adding a second bolt to keep the door shut tight. When I was done, I felt satisfied that there was no hole in the defenses big enough to allow entry by anything that could kill a chicken.

Wrong. This morning there was another headless chicken on the floor. I’ve just spent 15 minutes poring over every corner of the coop, looking for an entry. I found nothing.

Ordinarily, at this time of year footprints in the snow around the stable would provide some clues. But there is no snow, and the frozen ground yields no footprints. Do we have any readers who are more experienced with poultry, and might act as Sherlock Holmes? I’m stumped. The chickens are going to roost in the garage tonight.

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  • Posted by: littleone - Feb. 08, 2012 6:13 PM ET USA

    I like this new City Gates column and thank you for it. I know nothing about chickens really but did a quick yahoo search on chicken heads off and the first few things I ran into had in common the idea of hawks/owls/eagles as biting heads off. God BLess you and your chickens!!

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 08, 2012 2:14 PM ET USA

    Spurred by our common experience with the Church, what is the chance that it is something in the coop already, such as a rat?

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