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Ma (c. February 2011 – November 2, 2011)

November 4, 2011

Wednesday morning I set two new fence posts for a ten-foot expansion of our main

garden.  The plan is to do that three more times to nearly double it.  I strung heavy

fish netting on the sides, then draped a lighter mesh over the original end (about

seven feet high) to a rope about four feet high tied to the new posts.  I figured that

would give our chickens plenty of room to scratch up the new ground.


Several hours later, I was inside when Slinkee barked to go out.  She’d been gone

about half an hour when I heard her barking in the distance.  It was time for Jude

to get home from work, so I assumed she was barking at the car coming down the



Twenty minutes later, Jude hadn’t come in, so I went outside to check on both 

ladies.  They were near the garden expansion.  Jude had found Slinkee inside the

netted area, next to the body of Ma, one of the chickens.  Feathers were spread in

a four-foot diameter.


We don’t know if Slinkee killed Ma.  She does have an unhealthy fascination for the

birds, but Jude has been patiently training her to be calm around them, even to

gently herd them back to the coop.  Just before I’d gone in, a large raven had been

circling lower than usual.  I shooed it off and it croaked sarcastically.


In perfect hindsight, I realized that I should have had the temporary netting set

higher.  The raven could have swooped down, pushed the netting to the ground

and grabbed Ma, then let go of her when it couldn’t get her past the net.  That may

have been what Slinkee was barking at.


We’ll never know.  Jude moved the body and contaminated the crime scene.  The

jurisdiction of “CSI: Marg Helgenberger” doesn’t cover Canada (although it seems

to include everywhere from the Rockies to the Pacific in the U.S.).  Our RCMP de-

tachment has weightier concerns.


Ma will be missed, even though she was the most problematic of the flock.  She was

at the bottom of the pecking order, the center of most disputes.  For several months

she spent nearly all her time in the one nesting box all the girls preferred.  She had

recently started circulating and even roosted with the rest at night.  Jude briefly

entertained the thought that the others had ganged up on her to settle an old beef,

but decided there wasn’t enough evidence to rule it a mob hit.


Because we’ve already lost two of the original six girls, I started a memorial on a

wall in the coop.  This is just the rough draft, so to speak.  I did it with a Sharpie.


The title of the memorial is “FOWLS of FAME”.


A final note on Ma: her death confirmed our suspicion that she was the non-layer

of the group.  We think that’s why she spent so much time in the nesting box, to


  1. November 4, 2011 6:16 pm

    That is high-larious to see my name written on the chicken wall!!!!

    • November 6, 2011 12:12 pm

      There was some initial confusion identifying the cadaver due to nightfall, and we first feared that it was your namesake. We should have known that anyone named after you would be tough enough to survive a raven sortie or an 80-pound dog.

  2. Rosie permalink
    November 7, 2011 10:01 am

    I think that was a somewhat tragical post. At least, I will TRY to think it’s sad, but at least you figured out who was the non-layer of the bunch. BTW, I just watched Chicken Run again, it’s been years, but it’s still a great film!

    • November 8, 2011 7:34 pm

      It’s nice to hear from you again, Rosie. How’s things?

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