I know I’ve mentioned many times that I don’t come from farming heritage and I especially want you to remember this fact when I tell you this story. 🙂
We were living in CA, in Monterey County. We lived on 2 acres of land, 1 of which was useable. One of the first farm animals that we purchased was chickens. They came to us in the mail and we were enthralled with these little fuzzy creatures! We spent countless hours holding them, observing them, playing with them, etc.
Then they moved into the pullet stage and they weren’t quite so cuddly anymore and it was time to move them out of the house.
Lauren (9 years old) was our “chicken girl”. Each child had claimed a particular farm animal and she very much wanted to be in charge of the chickens. She took her job seriously and saw to their every need. We converted an old tool shed on the property into a hen house with an enclosed chicken yard. The hen house was great but I’d also read about “free-range” chickens and I loved the thought of chickens running around the yard.
So, we let them out of the hen house during the day and locked them up at night. We’d seen huge raccoons and possums and other critters that would love to “taste” our chickens. We also had a young Bobcat that would slink around our home at dusk. He was beautiful and I’d never had so much wildlife this close by.
One day, the kids were in the school room doing school. All was quiet and peaceful and I was doing work in the kitchen. All of a sudden, Catherine and Lauren both came running into the kitchen. Catherine was full of exuberance and excitement and Lauren was devastated and in tears!!
“Girls! What in the world has happened?!”
They both started to speak at the same time but Catherine’s voice won out.
“Mom, it was the coolest thing! We were sitting at our desks doing our work and watching the chickens in the yard. All of a sudden, that Bobcat came racing through and snatched up one of the chickens and ran off!! I’ve never seen anything like that before!”
As she paused for breath, Lauren began with tears running down her cheeks…
“Mom, that stupid Bobcat came out of nowhere and grabbed one of MY chickens and ran off with it!! I know he’s going to eat it!!”
Hmmmm, think fast. I held Lauren and consoled her while I gave Catherine the “mother eyes” that said, “I understand your excitement but for the sake of your sister, maybe you should tone it down a smidge.” She ran off to tell the others while I talked with Lauren.
Tough lesson learned: it doesn’t matter if the books say an animal is “nocturnal and only hunts at night.” When they’re hungry, they don’t care what time of day it is! They’re opportunists and when the opportunity is there, they take it, even if it’s a chicken that belongs to a sweet little girl.
After that, we locked the chickens back up during the day unless we were outside to keep an eye on them. We even had a freind bring over her dogs so they could “mark” our property.
It wasn’t long after this “fast food” incident that Lauren went out to do something at the chicken house. When she came back in, she was worked up and rather indignant.
“Mommy, that bobcat was back. He was right by my chicken house and had one of my chickens in his mouth!”
“You’re kidding?! Well, do you want me to go out there and do something?”
“Oh no, I already took care of him.”
“Yep, when I saw him, I got angry and remembered when he ran off with my other chicken. I yelled at him but he didn’t move. So I grabbed the rake and ran after him screaming and yelling. He dropped the chicken and ran away.”
“Lauren, you do realize he’s a wild animal and if he wanted to, he could really hurt you.”
“Well, yeah Mom, but he was after my chickens and he already got one. I wasn’t about to let him have another one!”
Lauren was my quiet child, the peace-maker, the comforter. She never got riled or worked up over anything. And now she was chasing a bobcat with a rake?! Yep, she was the right one to put in charge of the chickens! She was taking her job very seriously. However, after I praised her for her courage, I did suggest that she come in and get me or dad if that ever happened again…
We didn’t see much of that bobcat afterwards. I’m sure his mom had warned him, “Stay away from all crazed humans carrying rakes – you never know what they might do!”