Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eartha Chick Goes Missing

Here's my good weather routine. When I get home from work, I go directly to the barn. I look around to see if the chickens have come home to roost after their day out in their run. Usually I scatter some scratch grains around and call "chick chick chick" and they all flock to me. A quick count should show twelve hens and Egglebert. Then I close their hatch door to keep them inside, safe in the knowledge that the dogs may go outside without chasing hens.

Some days it's just not routine.

Today I counted eleven hens. I'm pretty sleepy from working on a mailing list all day, so I count again. Eleven. I look in all the hidey places in the barn but come up empty. I peek my head through the hatch and see absolutely zero hens outdoors. I go outside and walk around the hen run searching for evidence of wrongdoing. No feathers, no body parts strewn in the grass. I'm tired, so I go in the house and let the dogs out. Then the dogs come in for dinner and I think I should go and count again. Still eleven, so then it's inventory. One yellow, Peep is there, three other Marans, three reds, three Ameraucanas. Where's the black hen?

Oh, no! Eartha Chick is the softest of hens. She's a bit skittish, but when I steal a stroke of her feathers it's just heaven. Then I think, yes, she's kind of independent. If she were outside, she might decide to go on an adventure. I look out into the fenced yard (where the dogs run) and sure enough, there her black self is, eating grass under the perimeter pines.

Now you need to know that the fence surrounds almost an acre of grass -- no way could I chase down a hen in that space! So I had to use my smarts. I got a can of scratch grains and started calling "chick chick chick"! She looked straight at me, squinted her beady eyes, and squeezed out a vengeful green chicken turd. This was not going to be easy.

I tossed some grain, she pecked it, keeping one beady black eye on me. If I shifted my weight in her direction, off she skittered. I finally got her to flee across the yard towards the barn. But each time I made the approach to grab her she flew in the other direction. (Oh, ok, chickens don't exactly fly, but they flap their wings and run on their tippy toes and I think they believe they fly.)

Next brainstorm -- let the other hens out so she would have more reason to approach the barn. Back in the barn, open the hatch, out they run. Zip back into the yard and sure enough, she's eager to rejoin her girlfriends. It only took a few tries to finally grab her (by which point Egglebert was truly p-o'd) and give her the opportunity to fly over the fence, in with her girls.

By the time I got into the barn and called "chick chick chick" all the chickens were marching up their ramp and back inside. One-two-three... yes, twelve hens and one Egglebert.

Back to the routine.


Anonymous said...

Is that Eartha in the picture? Such a baleful glare! She was having fun and you made her go home. Poo on you!

MaryEllen Schneider said...

Glad your story has a happy ending! Eartha's home.