In judging the life of any living being, the question has been asked over and over, what is more important- length of life or quality of life? We lost another chicken last night.
The chickens residing at Cabin Spring Farm are all free range. This means they can go wherever they wish. They are not confined to a cage or run. Many people who raise chickens for eggs have the chickens confined for their safety. We do not raise chickens for eggs. We are always appreciative of the gifts they give us but if they don't lay for a time, for whatever reason, it is not a problem. We like to have chickens living here to keep insects down, to help keep the barn clean, to manage the manure pile, and for general balance on the farm. If we confined them they could no longer do this. We have tried closing them in a coop at night. That works pretty good as long as they chose to go in there-- and if we don't forget to close the door to the coop at night. When you have rhythms and routines and then do something different one night, it leads to doing something else different and that sometimes puts animals at risks.
We have lost 3 hens in a very short time. The first to complications of an attack of a daytime predator, the second to human error (forgetting to close the coop one night), and the third to a nighttime predator (due to a bad choice by a hen). Two nights in a row, one of the hens decided she wanted to sleep on top of the closet in the barn. Two nights in a row, I had to nudge her and encourage her to roost back up in the high rafters with the other two. Last night I was not here when the chickens went to roost. I thought I would be home an hour or so later, but an airplane connection was missed and we got home very late. So is it US Air's fault, the hen's fault, my fault, or the hungry predator's fault that the hen is not with us any longer?
We have a wonderful life here at Cabin Spring Farm and we all try to take care of each other and keep on top of things but sometimes that is not enough. Now the geese are asking the sheep and chickens to help them get out of their pen but they are not yet able to defend themselves so it is a good thing none of us listen to them. Right now they will have to be happy with quantity (each new day) instead of quality.