Once upon some chickens This last spring I ordered some baby chickens; 5 Black Austrolorps, 5 Buff Orpingtons, and 5 Cinnamon Queens. On May 29th the feed store called and said my chicks were in. They were so cute; little balls of fluff and an egg tooth. A month and a half later they were outside in a mesh-wire cage and I was letting them out daily. One night Raccoons actually broke a board on the cage door and got in and ate half my chicks in one night. I of course moved the chicks to a bigger pen that was well protected. The next night I shot nine raccoons. In the preceding days I trapped four more. So with eight chicks left we made it almost 5 months. The two Cinnamon Queens were laying daily and one new chicken started laying. Every day I would come home from work and let them out to eat in the yard. My neighbors and I took great delight feeding them bread scraps from the deck out back. There we tried to decide who the next egg layer was. Well this morning I saw a chicken in the box from my kitchen window. To my Surprise it was on of the buff Orpingtons. She spent several hours in the nest box moving hay around to make a perfect nest. I felt guilty collecting her second pullet egg. On weekends I let my chickens out to free range. This weekend was no exception. I have actually been building a small shed on the side of their pen so I can keep them warm and dry in the winter. On return from a ten minute break from in the house I caught a glimpse of some animal heading around the house. I called out loud and the dog stopped and came back around so I could see it clearly. I yelled and ran it off. It was a stray, one I had not seen before and pretty scruffy looking. Then the light bulb came on! Where are the girls? I went to look at the pen and not far away I saw a Buff Orpington laying in the yard. Not a feather any where but she was bloody and gasping. I picked her up and I really think there was some relief in her eyes; like maybe I could do something for her. Or at least it wasnt the crushing jaws of the dog. I held her for a couple of minutes. I was so stunned. I knew she was going to die. I took her to the pen, put her in some straw and went to the house for my gun. The dog of course was long gone. I searched every where. Here and there a chicken would come out of hiding as I was doing my Chick Chick call, I do every time I feed them. I probably looked for an hour and finally the last one came back. I almost stepped on one as she was so still and hiding in the tall weeds. I also finally found the place of the attack. At first I found where a chicken had been scratching; then a few feathers. I could tell she had run toward the pen and the protection of the tall bamboo clump by the fence. On one side there were tons of feathers and blood. As she crawled or flopped through the bamboo the dog must have kept biting her. Just on the other side she slipped through the fence and to safety, only to die ten feet away. It was the hen I saw spending two hours making a nest that morning. I hear that Buff Orpingtons make great mothers. I had taken special pleasure watching her make that nest. My chickens are so friendly she probably ran up to the dog. My guess is that very few people will understand me when I start shooting any dog in my yard. Why is it that stray or free running dogs almost always kill chickens? I only lost one chicken and I still feel devastated. Hugs to all of you who have lost, and know the pain. Its not the money in fact no money can pay for that damage.