Chicken Casualties Cause Unexpected Tears

Eli and a chickenWe always knew having chickens for pets was a potentially short-lived proposition.

We started out with four chickens last year, and a few months later two of the four had flown the coop – literally. The remaining two were friendly but slow of foot, which meant they were less likely to leave but easy prey for any neighborhood critter.

Last night, one of those critters entered our backyard and forced its way into the chicken coop. I’m just glad my boys weren’t by my side when I found what remained of our dear pets.

My wife and I decided to tell our boys what happened rather than concoct a story about the chickens running away to join a cooler family. They know snippets of the whole “circle of life” routine already.

Young Ben cried a little when I told him the news, then his mind raced to something else – earthworms. Elijah was another case. I told him after picking him up from pre-pre-school, and he got a confused look on his face. He immediately wanted to tell a classmate what had happened, but I distracted him long enough to stop it. It felt wrong for the chickens’ death to instantly become a gory tale to tell his friends.

Later, while driving home from school, our dear, departed chickens came up in conversation and one of us began to cry. Hint: he has a daddy blog.

Part of me wanted to be stoic, to show my son that things would be OK. I couldn’t do it. So I blubbered a bit and suddenly Elijah was crying, too. He couldn’t quite process what had happened. He kept asking if they would be gone tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.

I brought up our old death stand by – they’re in the rainbows now along with Pop-Pop. But my heart wasn’t in it.

Suddenly our backyard is quieter, almost eerily so. The occasional cluck-cluck-cluuuuuck sound had become a comfort, the sight of the two chickens ambling along in search of  food gave me a tiny burst of joy I didn’t expect. Worst of all, I fear I could have prevented all of this. I should have secure the coop door better or woke up when the chickens were first attacked. I slept right through their final moments, apparently.

Their deaths bring something else unpleasant to mind. The novelty of having chickens had worn off with the boys. My wife, who came up with the whole, “let’s get some chickens and eat fresh eggs” idea, was flustered by the amount of poop they produced on a daily basis. I get it. They poop. A lot.

I was against getting chickens in the first place, and now I’m both the guy reduced to tears by their absence and the one who could have prevented their deaths in the first place.


  1. Maureen Toto says

    tHAT IS SO SAD. hAVING EXPERIENCED IT MYSELF, I know how you feel. They do become part of your life. Yes, it is messy and extra work but they are living creatures and very gentle. They had nowhere to run. My pond fish were all gone one day and I didn’t even know what happened. So vunerable. Pets are just that. I have now come to the conclusion I will not give myself to pets any longer. As much as I love dogs, I don’t look at them the same way I did. When my dog passes, I will never get another one. Too much heartbreak. The eyes, the sadness. The helplessness. I can’t give it any more. Whether you secure the coop or not, it happens. Don’t blame yourself.

  2. Sarah speicher says

    It might’ve had something to do with the rather large racoon that appears to have taken root on our side of the street…so sorry! We appreciated the eggs….they were great and even more, I loved watching Ben ‘love’ that chicken just like it was a more “usual” pet.

  3. says

    Oh, that is rough. I think it is a good thing to be honest with your kiddos about what happened. Death is a part of life. Since you guys enjoyed these chickens so much, maybe it’s time to get w new pet. Like a dog. They tend to live longer! 🙂

  4. Christian Toto says

    We already have a dog … and a fish, and the boys are always talking about adding a turtle to our family zoo! Not quite ready to take that step yet!

  5. says

    Real shame to hear about your chickens. We got two chickens a year or two ago, which was mainly my wife’s idea. That said, I quickly grew to enjoy having them in our garden and seeing the differences in their personalities. One of them passed away in its sleep over the summer and it was a sad moment for both of us too. We’re thinking about moving house at the moment and keen on going for a place that has a decent sized garden for both our son and our chickens to play in (…not that we’re planning on making our son sleep in the chicken hut though of course!).

    • Christian Toto says

      So glad you’ve got chickens in your life, too! Love it!

      Funny true story … we had chickens growing up, but when my parents decided to move out of state they let them essentially die off without replacing them (the plan to move took some time). Well, one simply lived and lived and lived, so when it was time to move they took her to their new home in Pennsylvania. She lived for quite some time after that, turning the home’s garage into her makeshift coop.

      • says

        Great story! I do wonder what sort of idea of chickens our son is going to have based on our remaining feathered pet Dorothy. She layed a bullet-shaped egged yesterday and regularly does little sneezes.

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