We don't let our hens run free in the yard for two reasons: 1) They turn my flower beds into dirt baths which wrecks the flowers, and 2) the F-word.
Two years ago, we had a pet hen named Betty. Came about because our rooster decided he didn't like her (after pecking her sister to death -- and you think teenage girls are vicious...) so we let her hang out on the other side of the coop with the rabbits and roam the yard as she wanted. She even had her own theme song: Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al". Every time I came across our pet hen, I sang, "Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al." It was lovely.
But as I returned home from a walk in the woods, I found a pile of feathers that I recognized on the lane. The fox got her -- while my husband mowed the lawn.
So yesterday we lost another hen. Happened while my mother and I were in Moncton. When we arrived home at 4:30, I said, "I'd better take Abby [our young dog] for a walk."
My husband said, "Oh, she doesn't need one. Abby, tell your mother what you did."
Dwayne said he was on the front deck and knew Abby was around back. When he went to find her, though, she was gone. He called and called but finally had to jump on the four-wheeler to go back the road to search for her. When she finally responded, she came rushing out of the woods at the top of the field. We have a dog who likes to run with the wind.
Since I needed a walk, we went anyway and on our way back, I decided to cut through the field instead of going back down the lane. That's when I spied feathers sticking to the dried grass.
I knew them immediately: They were Blondie's feathers.
Blondie was one of our two Americauna hens who lay green-shelled eggs. Both Blondie and Annie (she's orange, named for Anne of Green Gables) are excellent layers. They also are hens who fly out of the pen to wander around the yard. (This loss is our fault: We said a week ago we needed to clip their feathers.)
Perhaps it's because she's young and playful, perhaps it's because she went partridge hunting with my husband but Abby runs after the chickens. I can't tell if she's chasing or herding. She stops as soon as I tell her to but she's quick. I've never seen her catch one so I'm not sure what her intentions are. She never tells me, just as she didn't say a word when I found the feathers in the field and asked her, "Did you kill a chicken? Did you?"
She did not answer but she looked upset. Was it my tone of voice or a guilty conscience?
I showed the feathers to my husband as soon as I got back to the house.
"Fox," he said.
"But maybe Abby -- "
"Nope. That's why she disappeared. She was chasing the fox."
She was on a rescue mission. She was trying to save one of her chickens.
|The last of Blondie's feathers...next to the last egg she'll ever lay.|