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Loss is something you experience on the working farm. Sometimes it is planned and sometimes it is not. I still have heart ache when we process any animal. I have a moment when I think we should all become vegetarians but I don’t think my family would like that very much. I realize that we have to process in order to feed the family and to keep the farm producing. If you don’t process you end up with 60 plus 2 year old hens and only a few eggs a week. That is not ideal!

When farm loss is not expected I find it even harder to deal with. Last year I decided to let my hens hatch eggs if they went broody. There is something magical about letting a hen sit on her eggs. She is a devoted mother from the beginning and will sit on her eggs for 21 days (give or take) leaving briefly for food and water. We had 2 beautiful chicks hatch under 2 hens. They were great mommas.

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One night I woke up to horrible hen noises. I ran out into the night (not the best choice) to help scare off the culprit. There was a small hole in the coop that one of my hens could squeeze through but the others could not fit.

Lesson 111 – Don’t wait to fix something! I noticed this hole and said to my hubby I will fix that tomorrow. And what happened that night??? Back to the hen screaming….

When I arrived on the scene momma hen was lying on the ground making dying sounds and her terrified chick was trying to escape. I scooped up my hen expecting the worst but she was in perfect condition. I am convinced she was trying to get the attention away from her babe and on to her. I put them somewhere safe for the rest of the night. I did a quick check at the other momma and she seemed fine but it was dark.

The next morning I went out to the coop bright and early to check on my mommas. Momma and chick I separated were great. When I opened the coop the other momma she came out and started to call for her little chick who was nowhere to be found. I have NEVER been so upset on the farm. I searched for the little chick and all I found was a wing. My momma hen was distraught. She roamed the yard calling and searching. I stood in the yard crying my face off saying “I’m so sorry!!” I am not sure I have ever cried this hard in my life. I probably looked ridiculous.

This kind of loss is difficult. I was a little angry with myself for not jumping on the problem with the coop. I should have fixed it right away. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. Now we don’t let things go until the next day. Lesson Learned!

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