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It was the morning before I had to leave for Kelowna to pick up Erin. Noah, Fiona and Sophie had to be got up, the lunches had to be made, everyone had to be fed, coffee had to be made and drunk, suitcases had to be packed for Fiona and me for the overnight, art class supplies and sewing machine had to be readied for the morning’s class. In other words, it was the usual chaos plus a bit more. And of course the chicken feed and water had to be topped up before I left. Ten minutes before we all had to depart, I ran out to water the chickens, and saw something leap up towards the fenced roof of the outdoor chicken run.

And there he was: this guy. About twice the size of a house cat, meaty and substantial with strength and claws and attitude to match. He was trapped there, startled by my presence. I couldn’t see how he’d gotten in, but getting out wasn’t proving to be easy.

I saw no blood or feathers around, and the chickens usually stay inside the coop where it’s warmer, so I wondered if he had maybe just arrived. Perhaps the chickens were still alive, cowering inside. Regardless, I wanted to get him out. I cracked the gate to the outdoor chicken run, just wide enough to admit a camera lens, and took this photo. He growled, hissed and growled some more.

I cracked the gate a little wider and then went around to the far side of the coop, prodding him from behind with a long stick in an effort to encourage him to leave through the gap I’d left him in the gate. He was spitting mad and didn’t want to move. But finally he made a grand leap and ran for it: straight through the little chicken door and into the coop.

I suppose I wasn’t thinking entirely sensibly. I was only thinking of the poor chickens that he might be about to kill. So I ran around to the coop door and quickly opened it, peering into the relative dark, hoping that my appearance would scare him out the little flap-door at the back by which he had come in.

The image was like a split-second landscape revealed by a flash of lightning. I saw, and I slammed the door shut, only really understanding what I had seen after the door was closed. I had seen chicken carcasses: it was already all over for our rooster and four hens who had been faithfully contributing lovely blue-green-shelled eggs to our pantry for a year and a half. But I had also seen the cat, a mere 14 inches from my face, sitting in the nesting box closest to the door, growling his horrid growl, crouched upon his deadly claws.

We now had two minutes until we had to leave for school/art class/Kelowna. Like any reasonable person would, I spent that two minutes uploading the photo to Facebook (thereby alerting Chuck) and then simply drove away, trusting that the cat would eventually leave by the open gate. Which it seems he did.

We dealt with the chicken carcasses another day. I suppose we’ll be back to raising new chicks this spring.



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6 responses to “Bob”

  1. Lea Avatar

    Thank goodness for facebook….
    Merry Christmas Miranda to all of you.. I miss your posts, but truly understand… all my children have ahem” flown the coop” so to speak.. and yours are flowing nicely into a new season.. the very best for 2013

  2. Deborah Avatar

    Nice pic! One of these days you will have the most secure chicken coop in the world. So far I have resisted chickens, although we could theoretically put a coop in the garage. No way could we have an outside coop…this morning I saw that a mountain lion had marked the side of the garage, 24.5″ from the ground. (My tallest cat is 14″ at the hips.)

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Your not very smart trying to get into a tangle with a bobcat!!

  4. Miranda Hughes Avatar

    Well, Anon, dramatic license aside, bobcats don't attack humans: their preferred prey is less than 15 pounds. He might have slashed out in self-defence but he wasn't very big: about the size of a dachshund.

  5. kingstonmom Avatar

    Love the picture. Sorry to hear about the loss of your rooster and chickens, but glad you are okay.

  6. Simply Homeschooled Avatar

    Sometimes what we raise for our own food draws the most incredible blessings of wildlife! I would have feared my chickens too but what an incredible blessing to see so close! Great picture!