Monty’s Tragedy

by Ivory Soap

I thought it was a hawk.  Callie thought it was an owl.  We hoped it wasn’t a fox.

Regardless, while the goats were away (hopefully breeding), someone snuck off with one of my chickens’ heads.  I don’t really know which chicken, since I can only tell them apart by looking at all of their heads together.  Now, that wasn’t possible.  I just know that it wasn’t Bird (who only has one eye and is therefore easily identifiable).  Callie, who discovered the victim, declared it to be Monty.  And so it was.

Monty was a good chicken.  An excellent layer.  She is buried at the foot of a very tall weed beneath the willow tree.

She is survived by three sisters and four Rhode Island Reds that have been crashing at our place since November.  Farewell, dear Monty.  And thank you for being the first animal I ever buried.  That phobia had me paralyzed for years.

(And I only buried the chicken cause my five-year-old demanded it and Jeff wasn’t home.  I refused.  She offered to cover the chicken with a towel if I would come outside and see where she was.  I agreed.  How pathetic is that?  But I did it!  I totally buried a dead animal!  I AM a grown up…)


Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen March 10, 2010 at 6:39 am

:o( So sad to hear about Monty. I know how you feel, we lost 5 hens to a fox back in January. First fox we’d seen around here in years. Unfortunately for the rest of the girls they are now confined to their fenced in run.
Karen in NE Indiana

JoyceAnn March 10, 2010 at 6:44 am

So sorry to hear about your chicken , we lost 2 last week to some neighborhood dogs so I know how you feel. That does sound like it might have been an hawk or owl , if it was missing it’s head.

~ Many Blessings ~

debra March 10, 2010 at 6:44 am

Hawks take the head and leave us the rest. We’ve lost quite a few that way. and quite a few to foxes—in broad daylight.

Olyveoil March 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

Not only do the hawks leave the bodies, but so do possums and raccoons. I lost nearly a whole flock in one night due to those guys. I’ve actually had hawks fly off with the whole bird on one occasion.

And, as gory as it sounds, I have found that children love ceremonies. Especially funerals…lol. All of my neighbors children had to hold “services” for a baby bird left in my care that just didn’t make it. It was brought to me because I usually have great success with keeping orphans alive, but this one just passed on and they had to bury it. My neighbor was drafted to do the digging, the oldest said the eulogy, and they all bowed their heads for a moment of silence.

Take care,


Michelle March 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

So sorry to hear about Monty…good for you for being brave, though!

Justine March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am

Sorry to hear about your chicken, but I had to chuckle about your child being the “brave” one. My daughter has done the same for me!

Kat March 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

Oh, I’m so sorry! Poor Monty…

ranch101 March 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. We had to start locking everyone (chickens, ducks, geese) when that started happening. If it happened at night, I’d lean more towards the raccoon theory. They adore the crops. They also love eggs. If one has discovered your birds, it’s time for some prevention. They are known to break through chicken wire, although ours were apparently lazy and never did.

andrea March 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Sorry to hear about Monty. When we had chickens and ducks, one of our neighbors broke into our duck coop and stole/ate our ducklings. It’s such a hard thing to handle.

Jennifer March 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

So sorry to read this post. I’ve lost a few animals in my time and it’s never, ever easy. I get teary-eyed over hermit crabs and fish. If you are an animal person, you immediately bond with them and it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been with you, the time afterward is never the same.

Monty was a good chicken. All chickens are good chickens.

Jeanine March 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Hi just read your post, I TOO have lost a chicken. I think a hawk got it too, I have ended up putting a wire top to my chicken run, I will not lose another chicken to a hawk, and especially not to a coyote. I even wrote a poem “Ode to a Chicken”. My heart aches for your loss.

Stephanie March 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I’ve always read that it is coons who take the head and leave the body. You might want to set a live trap.

Ninabi March 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I’m sorry it happened.
If you set a live trap for raccoons, set several. I’ve had them show up in packs. Best bait is a can of sardines, opened. We unintentionally caught some feral cats that way, too.
Whatever did your poor chicken in will remember where “the restaurant” is located. I hope the others remain safe!

Portia McCracken March 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm

My sincerest condolences to you and your family, especially your little 5 year old. Poor Monty will be missed by all your fans.

lisa March 10, 2010 at 9:41 pm

i’ve found the best prevention is a big dog. that even keeps the coyotes away if the dog just looks menacing. our good (dearly departed) duncan looked like a brute but was gentle as a lamb. we never lost chickens when he was around. even though he was in at night (maybe it was his peepee?).

Carl March 10, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Sorry to hear about your Monty. I grew up in the country on a small farm many years ago. We never considered chickens as pets just a food source. Ours ran free and unfortunately many fell prey to hawks,stray dogs, foxes and etc.

Sometimes that food source business went a little too far in my opinion. I was at my uncle’s farm when lightning struck a tree near the chicken house and killed two hens. I was about eight years old at the time and I was the one who found them. I had been playing under that tree a few minutes before that.

When I told my aunt she went out, grabbed them up, and butchered them. Guess what was for supper that evening, good old chicken. I refused to eat them even though I watched my Mom butcher many of them. Somehow it just was not right to me. To make matters worse my sisters and cousins made fun of me for not eating electrocuted chicken. The adults were not any help either, they could not understand why someone would not want to eat a chicken that had been shocked to death. I stuck to my guns and still refused to eat it.

Lindsay March 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Probably a hawk. We lost 6 of our hens to a stray dog on Monday. So heartbreaking since one of them had decided to sit on the eggs (but I guess was out taking a break). It could have been a racoon, but racoons do it for food, and will eat anything. It is sad, but, my daughter understands grief better than a lot of adults because of her pet chickens that died earlier this summer. She was extremely mature to her cousins when their great great grandpa died, it made the death just a little bit easier. When we lost a goat though, it was hard and I cried like a baby for 2 days. Goats just have a way, don’t they?

CarrieK March 10, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss. But kudos to you for being “the grownup” and handling it well. You set a good example. The circle of life will not stop, we have to handle it and you did. I love your blog!

JavaLady March 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

oh dear, so sorry about Monty. My condolences. Also, my Kudos on being a grown up and doing the burial — you go girl ! I’ve had to bury two pets in the past year, and my oldest son did the digging — he insisted. Tis so sad to lose a pet and family friend.

Cipollina March 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Oh gosh, I burst into crying now! 🙁
Am thinking about getting three chicks for the eggs and the fertilizer, so I’ve been reading a lot about chickens and their needs lately…
Have had to bury three cats through the years, and it kills me every time.
So sorry! 🙁

Handful March 11, 2010 at 12:45 pm

So sorry. I am sure she is in chicken heaven as God loves all his creatures.

Rest in Peace, Monty.

pumpkinsx3 March 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Its amazing how we can rise to the occasion when we are “the adult”. Just the other day I told my daughter that after 3 children not very much grosses me out anymore. Sad it gets to that point. She said she hopes she never gets to that point. I said “just wait”.

Conny March 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Glad you went through with the burial ceremony – children really need the closure. We’ve had a few of those ceremonies here at our house. Under the oak tree is buried 1 frog and 1 lizard. It was sad seeing my then 5-yr old crying his eyes out. For 3 days he kept going back to the oak tree and sob. The rocks that mark their location are not allowed to be moved.

Next week our first chicks arrive and I hope it goes well. All the possible heartache over having one or more die is making me a bit nervous for my son.

Carl March 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm

In an earlier post I said that we did not consider chickens pets when I grew up on the farm. On further reflection that statement was not exactly true.

There was this rooster that dad had named and over the many years I have forgotten that name. He was fascinated with dad. He would follow dad to the potato patch which was close to 1/4 mile away from the house. Dad would inspect the plants for potato bugs, pick them off, and put them in an old coffee can. He would feed the bugs to the rooster. It was not long before this rooster learned that he could inspect the plants also and eat them on the spot. He would go along behind dad and pick off the ones dad missed. Dad always said that his rooster was better at that job than he was.

Dad considered it a waste of money to use chemicals on the potatoes. he preferred his method of handpicking and the year that we had the rooster helping us we had a good crop with very little bug damage.

We never did know what actually happened to our rooster friend. One day he was just gone never to be seen again. He was missed.

Carl March 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm

My memory has kicked in again. You may have a problem with weasels. It’s also possible that someone in your town may have released their pet ferrets because they no longer wanted to care for them. Weasels like the taste of blood, chicken blood especially.

megan March 11, 2010 at 2:12 pm

backyard chicken forum has a list to “identify that predator” – based on what parts of your chicken are left behind.

Diane March 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Awww… RIP Monty, and congratulations on being so brave, Ivory! My first 3 chickens were all eaten by raccoons, and I was so sad and pissed off!

Though I do have to admit I’ve now had chickens long enough that I went “Why didn’t you just eat her?” When I got to the burial part. 😛

rowena___. March 11, 2010 at 4:50 pm

aw, i am really sorry, ivory. {{{HUG}}}

Susan Chiang March 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm

We lost a hen to a neighborhood dog (Alaskan Husky), who caught her and ate her right there in our backyard. We didn’t realize what was going on until it was too late. Then it took us awhile to locate the owner, so we just had to stand there and watch this huge wolf-like dog eating our poor girl while we got a hold of the owner. My 3-year-old daughter took it way better than I did. She was hugging me trying to make me feel better!

Sorry about your loss. It seems with chickens, losses are bound to happen…. one of the drawbacks of having chickens.

Victoria March 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. My mom decided to keep chickens at one point. It didn’t take long for all of them to be eaten by wild things. At one point she found one of them after it had been thrashed. She thought it was dead, so she dug a whole and put the chicken in and filled it up and then dropped a big rock on top of the pile of dirt. From under the dirt she heard, ‘eep’, when she dropped the rock. Yes, turns out the bird wasn’t dead yet, but it was very damaged and would not live, so she left it buried.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: