Three years ago the county in which we lived finally allowed those who lived within city limits to own and raise hens (no roosters). I very quickly went to my favorite feed store and picked up a few day-old chicks and everything they would need. Every week or so they would get new chicks in and I would be among the first to pick out a few to add to my growing flock. After I reached 12 birds my husband cut me off. He was trying to keep me from going totally chicken crazy. To late! While the chicks were in the brooder in the spare room; I quickly went to work building an outside coop. It was a wonderful time. The kids were having a blast as well. The youngest always helped me pick out new chicks and the older two would check on the chicks everyday afterschool before starting homework. The kids and hubby were a big help with building the coop. Everything was going great! The chicks moved into their newly built coop when they reached about two months old. I hadn't put the run on yet but it was coming soon. Until the run was put on I only allowed supervised outside time in the (work-in-progress) garden. It was paradise. That is... until the day "it" happened. It was a beautiful morning when I went to feed the chicks their breakfast. The girls were happy and healthy and hungry. I gave them a bit of extra food because they wouldn't be getting any outside time. I had several errands to run and would be gone most of the day. After feeding the girls I let the dogs into the back yard and headed out. It was late in the evening when I got home, and the sun was beginning to set. I knew instantly something was wrong. Two of the three dogs were hiding at the back of the yard. When I went out back I found the coop door open. It hadn't latched properly and the chicks went exploring. Their lifeless bodies were scattered all over the yard. I was devastated! While cleaning up I discovered one of the girls had survived by laying perfectly still. She was in shock and covered in mud. I quickly got her cleaned up and moved in the house to a large crate. After a week of TLC she was well enough to move back to the coop, but I didn't want her to be alone. She is a flock animal and needs companions. Seeing my devastation hubby lifted the ban on "solo" trips to the feed store. It took about two months before she had 8 new companions. And about 6 months after that I had 6 more day old chicks in the brooder. Everything had settled down. The coop had a new enclosed run and a fence was put up around a good sized portion of the yard that included the coop. I was even starting to get eggs. Grace as the one hen was named was the first to start laying. And soon we were getting about 8 to 10 eggs a day. Raising chickens was beginning to get delicious. Life was good the and hens were happy. One of the chicks was starting to show signs of being a cockerel. No rooster were allowed so I had to decide what to do with him. He was a sweet boy if a bit flighty. The decision, however, was taken from me by a very determined dog. After the first attack the trouble making dog was not allowed in the yard at the same time the hens were out in their yard. I just didn't trust him. On this very unfortunate occasion I was going back and forth between the front and back yard. We would be moving in a few months time and there was much to do to get my garden and chickens ready. Unbeknownst to me someone had left the back door open. I was in the front yard when "it" happened. Most of the hens saw it coming and hid in the coop but the young Delawares didn't have a clue. The cockerel and all but one of the pullets had their lives ended prematurely when the "dog" broke through the fence. I was furious! There was no time to react. To much work was still to be done. New stricter guidelines were enacted and enforced in dealing with "the dog." There were three ducklings waiting to transition outside and I needed the yard to be a safe place. (I wanted the outside transition to happen before the move.) The transition went well and the ducklings got their first pool. Ducklings grow very fast and shortly before the move the little ducklings were nearly full grown. That summer was a transition time for the whole family. We were moving from our comfortable home in the city on 0.6 acres to 5 acres in the middle of no where. We packed up and moved everyone including the birds, dogs, and cats. Because of the way we built the coop it had to be left behind and a temporary coop was erected at the new house. And the ducks received a new pool too. The first night went well and we were warmly greeted by our new neighbor's rooster. I think he had a fondness for the hens. There were no fences in place yet so mr. rooster spent the whole day trying to convince the girls he was the best and that they should follow him. Almost worked with the Delaware hen. She wouldn't leave his side. Seeing an opportunity I had not had before I wanted to collect some eggs for hatching. First I had to find out where the hens were hiding their eggs. I was fairly certain this first clutch was no good for hatching, but the next clutch was golden. Turns out only the RIR hens were laying at the time as well. Mr. Rooster became a daddy. We found out the hard way that the back door wouldn't latch properly and I became grateful I had collected some hatching eggs. "The dog" struck again, this time ending the entire flock except the ducks. He doesn't have a taste for duck. Now totally devastated and unable to get new chicks(mail order not an option at the moment). My neighbor took pity on us and connected us to a guy who had some unwanted extra birds he was giving away. Marbles is a young cockerel with lovely marbling in his feathers, and he is a bit crazy(flighty). Graycie and Robin are very flighty as well but the adopted the young orphaned chicks shortly after they hatched. Of the 9 chicks who hatched only 3 survived. Two I kept and one I traded with my neighbor for one of hers. Not sure what happened. I monitored everything and no predators got anywhere near them. One by one they just started dying until only 3 were left. The ones left are big and healthy. Peepers was the first chick that hatched and is the biggest. Quite possibly a cockerel as well. Shorty is a bit camera but very inquisitive. Speckles was the chick I got I trade. She is tiny but spunky. A few weeks ago I ran into someone with a few full grown birds she no longer wanted. And wanting to expand the flock a bit more I agreed to take them. Dodo is an Egyptian Fayoumi rooster with to much attitude for one so pretty. Squeakers is a bantam rooster that sounds like a squeaky toy and always makes me smile. Rosie was an extra bird that she didn't want so I got her as well. Works for me she is very sweet. "The dog" seems to have settled down as well. He got loose the other day and didn't touch our chickens, who were loose in the yard. However, he did go after a neighbor's chickens, killing two hens before getting caught. Still deciding what to do with "the dog." I will be replacing my neighbor's hens ASAP. The ducks don't seem bothered by "the dog" and the one duck has started laying eggs. With two drakes on hand it would seem that the eggs are fertile as well. Bruno spends most of her time with Lucy, a very handsome drake. Peter is very handsome as well, but with a bad leg he doesn't get around very well. So, I usually find him sitting in the shade or swimming. My happy little flock is on the mend and growing stronger. Praying that there will be no more devastating events. Thanks for reading my little story. If you have a story to share I would love to read yours as well.