I always intended to write about issues around food security on this blog, but I never imagined I would be treating the subject so literally.
We are increasing our food security around here. And this time it isn’t about farmer’s markets or raised beds or cooking skills. It isn’t really feel good at all. This time, it concerns our defence plan.
We had a small tragedy strike our little piece of paradise. My chicken bliss was literally torn to pieces by a hungry, lactating vixen and her need to feed her babies. We lost five hens and our rooster to a fox who strolled in one morning and snapped six necks, carrying off four birds one by one. We are left with three girls, including Granny, who only lays a few days a week. I am grateful for each of them.
I have to confess, I cried. I mourned for those chickens. I had a difficult time telling my daughter. Then I kicked myself for not doing a better job to protect them.
We have electrified the poultry fencing and now let the girls out later in the morning. A kind member of the Maritime chicken community is donating a lovely new rooster and young hen, so we are rebuilding. There may be chicks in our future, as laying hens are scarce.
I now talk about chickens more than anything else. Just. Like. My. Mother. (love you, mum!) But, I love them. And that is not because some of them have names or are cute. It is because they are interesting, they give us healthy, fresh food in our backyard, connect us further to our land and they are teaching us so much about so much.
This has been a tough reality check and I am sure it is only one of many in our quest for a greater level of food security. I hope the 6000 volts is enough to keep the foxes, raccoons, minks (etc) out; I hope our new rooster will let the girls know when hawks and eagles fly overhead; I hope I am doing right by those birds and I hope I will have eggs tomorrow and every day hereafter.
There is more to this story – but I need to let this sit for a while, wait and see a little bit. The whole community is talking about this mother fox and her litter of seven, growing plumper by the day. Our neighbours and the community in general have been so generous with their time, resources, and opinions.
I turned 31 on Tuesday, and my husband gave me a new mug. He debated whether to give it to me after what happened, but I like it. Alongside my morning coffee, it will be a daily reminder of this hard lesson and the complexity of our relationship with nature.