I have raised backyard hens (8) in the Chicago suburbs for nearly three years now, and I love it. My birds are so quirky and fun to watch: it's like having living art in the backyard. I actually found this site because, unfortunately, one of my birds, a three year old Isa Brown, died suddenly this afternoon, and I was searching the internet looking for answers (which I don't think I'll find) and comfort (which I found here). I just don't understand. She was free-ranging around the backyard one minute, and, when I went to check on a broody bird in the coop (not the one that died) about 30 minutes later, she was dead under a bush with no marks or signs of struggle at all. In fact, she was still very warm, so I think she had died minutes before I found her. There was nothing out of the ordinary: my birds have eaten the same food, drank the same water, lived in the same coop, and free-ranged in the same yard every day for three years. I just can't keep wondering what went wrong. I also can't figure out why I am so **** sad over a chicken! But, she was definitely the leader of the flock and was always the first to greet me every day. I miss her.