Looking for the hen who isn't there


10 Years
Jan 9, 2010
I feel like a complete idiot, but figured there is no other group of people who will even come close to understanding.

I have lots of chickens, I have lost lots of chickens (my flock free ranges and there will always be predator losses). But...this one, this Ethel. Every night the hens put themselves in the hen house - except Ethel. She waits for me each night to come out of the front door and call to her, and then she comes running to me, turns around and I pick her up and carry her in. Except, that she doesn't anymore, and I am just so absurdly broken up over the loss of this hen. Honestly, I am starting to feel like a crazy lady!

With some we form a special attachment. I understand.
Oh, I know that feeling well, unfortunately. I also allow my flock to range freely, and expected more losses than I have suffered. There has been a skunk and her babies on my property of late; fine, so she was eating eggs... But then she killed some juvenile birds I hadn't yet gotten really attached to. My fault, nobody to blame but me - lax on closing up the coop at night during the hot summer nights.

But then, the sudden, unexplained death of a favorite and I am undone.

I have a couple chickens in the freezer I am just not ready to bury yet. (hope that doesn't creep too many folks out.)
So sad, hopefully your heart heals with time! I've only had chickens for 6 months, and about 3 mths ago my favorite lil hen never returned with the 6, my heart began to beat fast as the darkness fell. I searched the woods with a flashlight around our house, knowing the outcome wasn't good, considering the fact we are surrounded by predators. My husband finally made me come inside, and I had to face the fact she was gone forever, so I feel your pain, some chickens are just one of a kind! :'(
Yes, you are definitely talking to the right group of people! There are probably very few people here who have not had favorite or special birds at some point. I lost my favorite bird last summer, she did the same thing your bird did. The others would all go to roost but she would wait at the gate for me every night until I came out. I'd ask her "Are you ready to go up?" She'd run up to me, turn around and wait for me to pick her up and carry her in. She was perfectly capable of getting up to the roost herself and she would if I was late, but she'd always wait for me. How I miss seeing her at the gate, still, a year later. The worst of it is that she died because of a stupid mistake I made. A mistake made after many years of chicken keeping. I have not forgiven myself.

So don't feel like a crazy lady! I generally take the death of my chickens in stride, it's part of chicken keeping. But sometimes circumstances or the loss of one that was extra special just don't make it so easy to move on.
Thanks - that's it exactly. I have taken the death of other chickens in stride on my little farm. I just didn't expect this to be so ... difficult. I don't really believe in grief, but it appears that grief believes in me.
Isn't it funny how we always find the special one among the flock of many? Or out of the flock of many one separates itself from the others and seek your company? It really is heartwarming to have any type of pet stray from typical behavior to find a way into our hearts. Sorry for your loss.

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