owlBarbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

Everyone who raises animals has a story. These are stories of triumph, stories of hardship, but mostly stories of how not to do THAT again. And I am no exception. Mine is the story of the 4ft owl. You heard me. 4 feet. Yes, 4 ft. An owl that stood four feet tall.

Anyway, it happened one morning, on a very sunny day, deep in the outskirts of Southern Oregon…

There I was, waking up peacefully to a beautiful sunny day, when it hit me…

I had forgotten to put the chickens in the coop for the night. No big deal, this had happened before and they were comfortable in the barn with the hay. It’s not a traditional, closed-in barn, but one with a roof and short sides. Enough to keep a four-footed predator out, so everything should be okay. And it had been.

That is, until that one fateful morning…

Still rubbing the sleep from my eyes I slipped on my bibs and muckers and went out to feed the critters. I opened the barn gate and there, to my left, standing on top of a chicken, on top of a bale of hay, was the biggest brown owl I had ever seen in my life. And it was staring me straight in the eyes, while holding a chicken.

There was carnage everywhere. Five or six chicken carcasses were strewn across the hay pile and floor. And there I stood, frozen to the spot, not 10 feet away from the biggest, bloodiest owl I had ever seen. And the owl was unconcerned. It looked me over, found me non-threatening, turned, hopped up on the side-rail, and whooshed its way back to the trees.

Yes, you could hear the sound of its wings.

Like I said, it was four feet tall.

Standing on a chicken, on a bale of hay, it looked me straight in the eyes.

Now I have never lived this down. It has been said that I left the gate open and a four-legged varmint got in there and wreaked havoc, and that I had perhaps indulged in a bit of the old snakebite medicine, but I assure you, that is not the case, and I have a witness who can attest to a sighting of that 4ft owl. And the whoosh, whoosh of its wings can be heard in the treeline to this day.

I’ve never seen it again.

It came, it conquered, and it left without so much as a burp. Or a footprint. Or anything but a bunch of munched chicken carcasses and the indelible imprint on my brain of that huge brown owl staring me down then unhurriedly meandering away without a care.

Try explaining that to the person whose chickens just got eaten. It’s been years, and I still don’t think he believes me.

And that folks, is my story – the tale of the 4ft owl. You heard me. 4 feet. Yes, 4 ft. An owl that stood four feet tall.

©2014 Barbara H. Peterson

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8 Responses to “The Tale of the 4ft Owl”

  1. Jess Porter says:

    I’ve heard many tall tales before, but I must admit, no tall owl tales before. Maybe that 4ft owl is carrying ebola. More likely bird flu. Of course, it could be carrying a piglet. And therefore, the swine flu.

  2. maddie says:

    I did manage to get some good pics of them, though, cause no one believed me about them chasing the cats. Lots of bones on the ground with the pine needles.

  3. maddie says:

    Great horned owl. They are protected here in Indiana. I had mom, dad, and the kids in one of my pine trees a couple years ago. The cat population suffered a lot, but this year they are eating my neighbor’s chickens. I even had one of the owls chasing a cat that was walking with me and the dog down our lane. Cat hit the wild rose bush and survived. She was smarter than the others.

  4. Bill says:

    Last December 01,2013 I let my dogs out at 7:30pm. I had 4 little dogs, three come back.The forth no where to be found. We live in the country in North Eastern Indiana on 10 acres, after 2 and a half days looking for any sign of our Sammy a 14lb. Chihuahua and Terrier mix. We found him 2 1/2 football fields away in a picked soybean field. He had passed, we brought him home for his dog brother’s and sister to see what had happen to him. WE knew by the talon marks on his sides what had happen, This Bird I was told was a Great Horned Owl with a 5 ft. wing span. Everyone please watch your dogs & chickens at night because the Owl see’s ALL!

  5. I have no idea what kind of owl it was. It was brown, had pointy ears, and was huge. When I saw it, the first thing on my mind was… don’t run – just stand there and hopefully, it will not decide to come after me.

  6. Irene says:

    I hear them but never see them, owls are sneeky.

    At Block Island Rhode Island the great snowy owl is making a come back. They like to live in flat tundra of the artic north but the climate is changing and possibly the magnetic guidance system of the earth too, so the Great Snowy Owls have taken a liking to big airports and long runways. Now Airports like JFK, La Gurdia and Islip need to chase away the owls before the flights take off in the morning.. How is that for a futurama moment ???

  7. Abe says:

    So Barb. What kind was it? Great horned? Great grey? Snowy? Or maybe a Long eared?
    I seen a great horned owl once. When it landed on a big branch, it looked just like a busted limb.

  8. suss says:

    wow that is incredible, i just had a large owl sitting in the middle of my yard he was around a foot and a half tall….. i thought he was huge too. next i see a treed kitty a suppose he was running from that owl…. i just made the connection after reading this….. wow kitty was gone in the am so hopefully he wasn’t the owls dinner….. that is a very frightful thought!!!