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I can empathize with this. After a good year of being a new chicken raiser/farmer of all of 5 hens, I lost one due to egg bind, which I had heard was relativly rare. Almost half a year later, I had a bobcat snatch one out from mere feet from where I was hanging out with the chicks while I tended my garden. Soon thereafter, within months, a Racoon took another one while my neighbor friend wat waching them while I was on vacation and a hawk took out another within weeks of that! I had put three new birds in there with the old ones, and they all got along fine.. but still, it hurts when one is taken from you. I'm down to three now, one of the originals and two of the newer birds.. and I'll definately get some more in the spring, because I find that their loss is still overtaken by the joy they bring me and my kids.. but yeah, it's a downer all right. No matter how well you try and protect them, they're still always near the bottom of the food chain.

So sorry Amy!

If you decide you need more layers, however, try getting one of your hens to hatch out a fertile egg or two--the easiest way to introduce new hens to an old flock.

my 10 girls all died right after thanksgiving, something got them, still not sure what. I miss them terribly :(

I quite sympathize with you on the loss of your hen. You're lucky, though, in having been able to keep them alive for so long. I live in a very rural area with lots of varmints and haven't been able to keep a flock going more than a few months. Last week, a raccoon killed three of the remaining four hens. I took the orphan back to the flock she came from. She needs company and it's not fair to leave her exposed to a certain death from the raccoon. I'll miss my hens and their eggs but after trying for three years, I'm giving up

I'm so very sorry. Dolly had a good life with you, Amy.

I'm sorry about your loss of Dolley. I have kept chickens for most of my 67 egg producers. Please remember that every chicken (or other animal) that you eat also has a personality and a life of their own. Vegetarianism is not so bad and gives you peace of mind.

We no longer raise meat birds, but continue with our small backyard flock of laying hens. No names. These are working girls. We do not cull, but let them die off of natural causes. Once grandchildren were here and a young pullet died of unknown natural causes. We held a funeral and I asked the children if they had any words they wanted to say. Caitlin, then 11, sighed and said, "we hardly knew you, but we will miss you." We do miss some of the more eccentric characters when they shuffle off. Wonderful post.

Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of your pet. My tears are for you.

Sorry about your buddy. What a beautiful painting to remember her by, and your words are quite a tribute too.

I'm very sorry, Amy. I ask myself the same question: Can I go through this again? I've recently said no. My husband thinks I'll change my mind, that in the long run it's worth it. But it's so hard, sometimes too hard.

My condolences on your loss, Amy. I remember video clips of you and your chickens - your amusement with and affection for Dolley and her companions was obvious. She was as lucky to have you as a caretaker as you were to have her.

About the longer-lived heirloom chickens: I've never had a chicken myself, but one of my favorite seed catalogs also has a poultry catalog. It's Sand Hill Preservation Center. The seed varieties are wonderful and the selection is extensive, but the catalog is on newsprint and there are no photos.

i'm so sorry...and what a beautiful portrait.
i've become very fond of the chickens that live where i work part time...but so far, i have stopped short of having my own because we have lost so many. i become attached too quickly and intensely for my own good.

Amy, how sad that you lost your dear Dolley. I agree it is hard to consider loving another short-lived creature. After my beloved Alex the cat died, I resolved to not have any more pets. It took my husband about 6 months of begging to get me to visit a motherless batch of kittens, and my convoluted reasoning meant we ended up with 3 of them: we couldn't have one again because it was just too hard to lose him, but we couldn't have only two because the other one would suffer so much losing their only sibling. (It only occurred to me later that we will now have to endure three deaths as well.)

I feel for you; it is never easy to say goodbye. But what a grand experience it is to love and be loved by an animal.

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