Warning: This is a sad post.
I got home from work on Thursday, and as is my habit, headed straight to the backyard to take care of The Farm. I stepped onto the back porch, and sang my little chicken song: BOK! Bokbokbok BOK! and instead of a flurry of feathers running from all corners of the yard to come get their pets and fresh compost, I was greeted with...silence. Eventually, I heard a weak squak? from under the rose bush, and my favorite lady cautiously approached me. Upon exploring the yard, I found the torn up and partially buried remains of 4 members of my flock, and a whole lot of feathers, and a whole lot of, what happened?!?
As near as I (and Google) can deduce, this was the work of enthusiastic dogs or malicious humans. There was no obvious point of entry into the yard, and no sign of what attacked my flock. My verdict on backyard chicken keeping is nearing "it's a whole lotta work for a whole lot of nothing". This is the second time in as many years that my flock has been decimated by predators, and I cannot in good conscious continue to keep free ranging birds in the backyard. I will fortify the coop for the survivors, and reassess next year.
In other news, a miscommunication with my neighbor led to my blackberry bushes and a rose bush being ripped up. Something ate 6 tomato plants down to the ground, but left the other dozen or so plants unscathed. The onions were dug up by the chickens. The bees are constantly buzzing in the thyme, borage, and lavender plants, the grapes are reaching for the sky, the little transplanted apple tree is recovering nicely, and I continue to enjoy a constant supply of fresh herbs for my culinary adventures. Check in for a future post on my backyard farm crafts: lavender flower wreaths and teasal plant mason bee homes.