just posting because i know you guys will understand the heartbreak i feel for my friend! and i guess it's always good to have a reminder to keep up vigilence against stupid ole predators. my friend called me this morning crying (we're friends and partners-in-crime when it comes to the chicken madness - i like to call it her fault we got our chickens!). last night at about 3am she heard a horrible chicken ruckus in her back yard. she ran outside to find a 30-40lb racoon standing over one of her hens. she managed to back the racoon off with a broom, but it was too late and her hen died in her arms. racoon stood and watched as she sobbed, calling frantically for her other 3 chickens. finally, she had to beat the racoon out of her yard with the broom. eventually, her other 3 kids came tottering out of hiding and she got everyone safely stashed back in their coop. she's beating herself up like crazy today, feeling guilty because she'd totally gotten lax with locking them up at night - shorter days meaning they were raising heck by 5 in the morning some days to get out. so she'd started just leaving their house and run open so that they could get themselves up when it made them happy. i should add - even though we live in the city, she'd never seen a racoon in her yard... doesn't mean they're not there (obviously), but it just gets easy to get complacent and relax your guard.......... needless to say, she's back to locking her girls up at night now, but sadly, too late for zelda. i feel SOOOOOOOO bad for her. we had a hawk scare at our house a few weeks ago - heard the girls sounding an alarm and went out back to find a hawk sitting in the middle of my back yard trying to figure out how to get to the chickens, who were huddled underneath our barbeque and patio table. one was unaccounted for, but she'd made it into their house and was hiding til she heard her sisters come running to tell me about the scary experience. fortunately, my story had a happy ending - but i, too, was reminded that just because you don't see 'em, doesn't mean they're not out there! we're currently trying to figure out how to ensure our girls have "bolt holes" in case that hawk starts stalking our yard! until, then, no free range time for my girls. so! hugs to my friend, and rip to her hen, zelda.