“They’ll be all right,” I thought, since my chickens were roosting on the half wall by my pony, Tessie.

“They’re in the barn. They’ll be safe.” I switched off the light on Number 5, 6 and 7. I forgot to bring their food into the barn.

The next morning, there were two feathers in the hay and no chickens. Usually Number 7 hides behind the manger. She wasn’t there.

Outside there was a line of feathers along the concrete platform that borders two sides of the barn.


Bruce peered at the limestone and found the hen’s scratches and a canid track. He found a half circle of feathers by the manure pile. I found a circle in the pasture and a bubble of grief that won’t break.

“If only I’d shut the door.” The rooster was silent the next day.

A few years ago we did the same thing. Our Barred Rocks and Buff Orphingtons were a scatter of bodies and feathers. Five, Six and Seven were the survivors.

I think of the terror I was supposed to prevent.

Yes, it’s the circle of life for a hungry coyote to eat a chicken, for nature to kill without regard to a person’s feelings or friendship with that animal.


But if you’re the one feeding the flock, maybe — just maybe — it’s the better part of wisdom to shut the damn door.


If you’d like to hear me reading this on WNIJ, click here.


  • I’m sorry your friends were taken, Katie. So sorry. One happy coyote. One grieving writer. Yes, the better part of wisdom would have been to shut the door, but we’re human. We make mistakes. And you always write about those times so beautifully.

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much for reading this and commenting and your encouragement. Love that line: “One happy coyote. One grieving writer.”