I went out to lock up the coop last night at dusk. That's when I check for eggs -- my six girls are gradually starting to lay again -- and generally tuck them in for the night. Although there's some light, it's dark inside the coop and I don't depend on seeing them. One hides herself inside a sheltered perch, but the other five are usually settled on easily observed perches. It's easiest to see Blondie, the White Dorking, but I don't generally count them. Where are they going to go? They have an entirely enclosed run and coop.
The gentle sounds of chickens settling down for the night were there, but Blondie's white presence didn't catch my eye. I looked around for her. No Blondie. Actually, only two of the six were there at all, the Ancona who stays inside the nesting area on a perch and the Wyandotte.
With panic rising, I ran back to the house to get a flashlight. Perhaps they were huddled in some dark corner where I couldn't see them. No birds.
The wildlife is welcome, but is also the reason we have a secure chicken coop and fully enclosed run. They wouldn't stand a chance without protection.
The scratching of dry oak leaves got my attention --there was the Welsummer, trying to make her way back under the wire fencing into the run. My husband saw the Partridge Rock and the Speckled Sussex at the front garden gate. They'd given up trying to get in where they'd gotten out and walked around the coop to the front of the house.
Blondie was fretting between the two, trying to get her flock together. "It's all under control, I'm here, I've got them," she said, oblivious to the dangers that lurk for unprotected chickens.
I opened the gate and persuaded the two brown chickens to come in that way. The Welsummer and Blondie found their way back under the fence after my husband dug it deeper on that side.
I gave them a reward of dried worms, their favorite bedtime snack. My husband reinforced the section of the fence that they had dug out. All's well that ends well.
They do enjoy getting out of the run into greener pastures. We'll have to get them into the chicken tractor if we ever get any rain and have some greens for them to graze in.