Hens gone missing…
Last evening while preparing a feast for friends and family, the rooster came to the front of the house, right at dusk, and pecked the door. This caused mayhem in the dogs, who thought it was someone knocking on the door. We were expecting company, after all. But the peck was unexpected, and kinda weird. I went out to see why my big old handsome rooster wasn’t headed to the coop with his girls. I tried herding him, but he wouldn’t go. He finally evaded me completely so I went back into the house for a flashlight. A quick look in the coop revealed only half of my chickens were on the roost. I went back around the house and found the rooster sitting on the snow shovel on the trailer, a hen on the water containers behind the house, and another in the doghouse. “Note to self: Don’t put the dogs in the pen!” I couldn’t reach the one in the dog house so I shut the gate and hoped a weasel wouldn’t discover her before morning. I herded the other hen and the rooster back to the coop, where the others waited waited silently. It was rather eery and unsettling to know there were at least three missing, and with company coming any minute, I wouldn’t have much time to look for them. My husband and daughter and the dogs all came out with me to hunt in the dark, but we found nothing. Our guests finally arrived, so we gave up and went ahead with our evening.
This morning I heard the hen in the doghouse calling for her friends, so I went out earlier than usual to feed and let the chickens out. I counted 10 outside, 11 total, with the dark hen, who was always so aggressive with all the rest of the hens, but is now the “picked on” and at the end of the pecking order, staying on the roost in the henhouse, as if she was afraid of going out into the daylight. They were all very quiet, looking up and around and making that sound they make when they are listening, a sort of question mark of a sound, that made the hair on my neck raise up. Some things are so primal you can’t miss the meaning. They were bothered and not their usual rowdy selves around the feeding pans. In fact, they barely ate any thing, and instead went around the corner of the house, past the watering station under the spigot, and into the front yard where they milled around uneasily. I stayed out with them for quite awhile until I got chilled and decided to start a fire and make coffee. After the water was hot and poured over the fresh grounds, I went back outside with a tobacco offering. “Please be satisfied with three hens and no more.”, I said to the hillside above the house and to the fox I know lives above us in the green spaces along the spring. I included any coyotes that may have survived the last holocaust of coyote kind in the valley.
I pray I am heard, that I am not forced to take any further action, and that the chickens will prosper after this thinning of the flock.
May all beings be well fed.