Freedom is a wonderful thing. But freedom can also be dangerous, especially if you are a hen. I am afraid for Klara Klok (Clever Clara) it was fatal. Now Klara Klok was indeed a clever chook, born and bred here on our smallholding. She was the eldest hen in the flock, the leader of the pack, even though the rooster in the henhouse may have thought he was in charge. And Klara had seen a few of them come and go in her day. Sure enough, nobody messed with Klara.
But the other day, when the whole pack were out and about roaming the grounds, danger struck from above. Taken quite unawares the poor chooks fled for cover. Only eight (out of 17 hens and two roosters) made it into the safety of the henhouse. The rest were scattered all over the grounds, in the bushes, under the deck and in the barn. By twilight I had managed to salvage all but three, quite safe in the knowledge that at least Klara Klok was clever enough to find shelter.
The next morning two of the missing hens appeared from nowhere, quite safe and sound, heading straight for their run. But not Klara Klok. A while later I found her, in the thick of the lilac bush, where she had ended her day as Goshawk´s prey. I have heard that the birds of prey always go for the most handsome hen. Sadly enough it turned out to be true (apart from the George Clooneys of the henhouse, that had made it into the henhouse in time).
In the nine years I have kept free range hens, not once have I lost a hen... or a rooster, to a predator. That is until I lost Klara Klok the other day. I am sad she is gone (even though she had stopped laying eggs, except maybe the odd one on a warm summer day). Dear Klara Klok, you will be sorely missed, and never forgotten. R.i.p.