Tag Archives: hens

The Case of the Disappearing Hen

Keeping with the Sherlock Holmes theme of late and mysteries in general, I address the latest events in my realm of existence. One of the hens disappeared. My sleuthing quickly eliminated alien abduction and canine mischief. Events from a prior day provide circumstantial clues as to the likely fate of the missing hen.

2 Days ago, 6:45 a.m. (dawn…ish)

Miss Diva runs into the house as I’m making coffee. “MOM! One of the chickens almost DIED!” My immediate thought is that Marble has been a bad dog again, but she’s inside with me, and was not outside all that long. Before I can ask, Miss Diva continues, “A huge bird swept down and picked it up, but then it dropped it.”

“Oh dear.” Given that it wasn’t fully light, it was probably an owl instead of the hawk I’ve seen once or twice flying in the vicinity during the day.  “Let’s hope it doesn’t come back.”

Famous last words, I suppose, considering when I went to feed the hens yesterday evening only four of the five showed up. I poked about the yard in the dark with a flashlight and found nothing, but hoped it was simply due to a small flashlight versus a big backyard. I repeated the search quickly this morning and more thoroughly this afternoon. Alas, no little easter egger hen was to be found.

Unless she evolved superior flying skills and took to the skies, which prior observation does not support, I’m afraid I must conclude that our disappearing hen vanished into an owl’s gullet.

Due to the sad conclusion, I suppose I shall not charge the hens a consultation fee.

Who needs Lassie?

My followers may have noted that my blogging frequency has diminished over the past week or so. I don’t expect to return to my usual two or three times a week until probably May. April is crunch time for the end of the semester. Even though I’m not enrolled in classes there are presentations, committee meetings, seminars, and all manner of time sucking, mind numbingly boring academic activities. That’s just my schedule.

The kid’s school seems to think it a great idea to pack all sorts of field trips and performances into the end of the year as well. Mr. Smarty-pants had two field trips and a performance for this week. He missed the first one due to his gravity testing experiment. Yes, gravity still works, and combined with the forward momentum of a bicycle, results in an impressive collection of road rash and scrapes. Today’s field trip necessitated me getting up before 5a.m. to drop him off at the meeting site for the chartered buses, I’m not one to voluntarily get up before the sun. Even the animals noticed and thought it odd. I often have to drag Zeke out of Mr. Smarty-pants’ bed, but this morning he hopped up and followed me into the kitchen.

Zeke: “What’s wrong, Mama?Why are you up? Are you hungry? I’m hungry.”

Marble yawned and looked at me like I was nuts, but exited her crate when asked. I shooed her outside, but Zeke wanted no part of being outdoors before the sun was up. In fact, he seems to have developed a chronic case of “LET ME IN!!!”

I proceeded with the rest of my normal routine, which involves letting Millie out, putting whatever is in the wash into the dryer, and then letting the chickens out to forage for bugs and whatnot. This morning the chickens decided to assist me with that. Someone must have unlatched the door on the coop, as it was open and all the chickens were roaming in the driveway. Figuring out how that happened required too many neurons for my still sleeping brain. I shrugged, and let Millie back in and proceeded to wake Mr. Smarty-pants. It only took four tries. Despite his claims to the contrary, we share the same lack of morning pep.

I fixed his lunch, tossed on some clothes, and dropped him off without incident. I was about his age when I went to the Huntsville space center and I thought it was pretty cool. I’m sure he’ll have fun.

Once home, I pulled into the drive and was greeted by all four chickens. Instead of moving away from the oncoming vehicle, they approached it in a game you might have heard of: Chicken. They won, since I stopped the car short of my normal parking space and did not squash them.

Marble, concerned over all of this unusual early morning activity, as it was still dark when I returned home, decided she needed to check on me. Our gate no longer latches properly, so I keep a heavy brick in front of it to keep it closed. It’s a sizable brick, so it never occurred to me that Marble might move it, or that she would know to do so. Then again, this is the same dog who figured out how the chicken coop latch works. I heard the brick scrape along the pave stones and out she bounded, frightening the hens, and leaping around me. Shocked by her Houdini act, I failed to duck when a chicken flew straight into my face. Good thing the hen is more feathers than weight.

Marble was torn between ensuring I wasn’t suffering from some strange malady or being kidnapped by alien invaders, and chasing the tempting feathered noms. On the plus side, she was smart enough to obey when I told her to “Leave it.” and called her to me. On the down side, I now knew she’d been humoring me. She only stayed in the back yard because it suited her to do so. It explained the handful of mysterious gate opening incidents. I lodged a long metal pole against the gate [more because I don’t want Zeke wandering than out of worry she’ll go anywhere], but I expect that she’ll figure out how to remove that obstacle. Heck, odds are she probably already knows. I get the feeling she has a higher IQ than some people I’ve known and I bet she’d do far better than Lassie. All Lassie ever seemed to do was go run for help.

  • Timmy fell in the well?

Lassie runs home.

Marble knocks a handy wooden plank in and he climbs out.

  • Alien invaders?

Lassie runs home.

Marble takes them out, as long as they taste better than chicken.

 

 

In case you’re wondering…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I purchased hens. It has occurred to me, based on the numerous questions posed by the neighborhood children that a chicken FAQ fact sheet might be in order. I’m basing my FAQ’s on actual inquiries received.

1) Yes, the feathered things running around in my yard are live chickens. Personally I would find zombie chickens rather disturbing.

image courtesy of therealskinnyp.tumblr.com

2) Yes, they are indeed the same thing one buys at the store, batters, and deep fries.

3) In reference to #2, yes this is accomplished by killing, cleaning, plucking and cooking, as I for one have no interest in eating something that is still flapping its wings.

4) If you cut off their head, no they do not continue to lay eggs.

5) No, I do not have to pull the eggs out of the chicken.

6) Similar to #2, yes, the eggs laid by the hens and are the same as the ones bought at the store.

7) We do the same thing with the eggs as one would with store bought eggs….eat them.

8) Yes, chicks hatch from eggs, but this requires a rooster. For further information on reproduction, for children, please ask your parents. If you are an adult, and need information, please use Google or another search engine.

9) Yes, chickens eat bugs and other sundry things. This isn’t really any more gross than us eating them. As tempting as it is for me to say otherwise, no, the chickens will not attempt to eat you.

10) As much as I wish to claim otherwise for the protection of my feathered flock, these particular hens are not very bright. I’d like to claim they are guard chickens which fiercely guard the house, but even the children asking these questions would realize how much of a lie that is.

I do hope I have answered your questions about chickens.