Coyotes kill nearly 100 of Herbfarm's heritage hens

Coyotes kill nearly 100 of Herbfarm's heritage hens
WOODINVILLE, Wash. -- For more than 25 years, the Herbfarm Restaurant has served dishes that have highlighted locally-grown ingredients.

When Herbfarm Chef Chris Weber prepares food, he does so with three things in mind: "the quality of the food, the quality of the ingredients and where it comes from."

The kitchen staff, who once relied on local farms for their eggs, now raises their own chickens. They treasure the yield of their heritage hens -- eggs so good the chef himself can't forget the taste.

"It's pretty indescribable, I think. It's just really rich. The fat content in them is incredible. It's palette-coating. It's really rich," he said. "They're really special. We treat'em like gold."

The restaurant began with six chickens and planned to expand to 150. But on New Year's Day, the staff discovered a nightmare.

"There was one chicken sitting on the fence, looking forlorn, saying, 'Where's all my friends?' There were a lot of other chickens just laying around," said Carrie Van Dyck, owner of the Herbfarm.

Despite being protected by a solar-powered electric fence, something had gone wrong the night before. Coyotes had snuck in to the chicken coop and killed nearly a hundred chickens. The neighboring pigs and ducks were left untouched.

"We have chickens. It's our job to protect the chickens. We failed, and the coyotes won Round One. Going into Round Two now," said Van Dyck.

The restaurant plans to start over.

"That's my approach to life," Van Dyck said. "Things happen. what we do everyday is cope with whatever's happening."

The Herbfarm has hatched a new plan. The staff is scrambling to fix the fence, and install automatic closing doors on the coop.

The restaurant owners are no strangers to building anew. In 1997, a fire destroyed the Herbfarm's former location in Fall City.