Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The case of the missing hens...

It's not unusual for us to occasionally lose a hen. Chickens have lots of predators, and when they free range they are pretty much open game to all the local wildlife. We've put up fences to protect them, but our English game birds are just a bit too wild...and still manage to find a way out of the fenced area.

Over the winter we lost almost all of our game birds to predators, and so this spring i purchased 6 new peeps at the farm supply store. i'm not a huge fan of the domestic hens, as they really lack the personality that the game birds have...however i'm sick of losing my chickens and the domestic hens can't fly out of the fenced area. So i picked up a variety of birds. i got a white leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Black sex link and black Australop pullets. i also picked up two Speckled Sussex straight run.

We lost our Rhode Island red a few weeks ago, i believe to my goat Delilah who seems to find great pleasure in head butting the chickens. They are usually quick enough to get out of her way, but not always. Of the two Speckled Sussex, i ended up with one hen and one rooster.

So of the 6 new chicks i picked up this spring, we ended up with these four new hens.
The day after i took this picture, the White leg horn disappeared. i was completely baffled as to how she could just disappear. She's never escaped from the fenced area before, and she doesn't fly. i looked in the chicken coop, goat shed, and under their flatform and there was absolutely no sign of the her. i started looking around the yard and found a few white feathers on the outside of the fence. So i deduced that a hawk must have swooped down and taken her right out of the fenced area. i was really bummed because she was such a nice bird, and now i was down to only 3 new layers.

Three days later one of my wild hens disappeared. :(

i wasn't that surprised to lose this hen. She was an Americana/English game mix. She looks like a Americana, but acts like a English game and lays plain white eggs. She has never seemed very smart, and is rather slow. She has been rescused from the mouth of my dog twice now, because she doesn't run away. The dogs can literally just walk over and pick her up. So i was bummed to lose her, but not that surprised.

Then a few days after she disappeared i spotted her scratching around in the compost! The silly hen was setting on eggs! i watched her to figure out where she was hiding her eggs at and was shocked when i found her nest!

She has over 25 eggs!! Sneaky little bird!

She has way too many to incubate, so i don't know how many she will actually hatch out. It's always kind of risky leaving a bird on a nest because of predators. She is nesting right next to the dog kennel, and since the dogs are sleeping out there at night i think she'll be pretty safe. i know if i try to move her she'll just abandon the eggs. So it's always kind of a tough call.

So now we come back to my little white hen. She disappeared almost two weeks ago, without a trace. We had accepted after the first night, that the bird was gone and not coming back. So you can only imagine my surprise when i went down into the goat yard to retrieve a big plastic container that had rolled down to the back fence, and out popped the little white hen!!  i believe she hoped up on the side of it to see what was in it, and it flipped over on top of her.  She had been stuck under that container for 12 days!!!

That poor bird! i have no idea how she survived that long, especially in the heat and without any real food or water. We did get a little bit of rain, so she got some water and the dirt under the pot was very scratched up...so she must have been finding some bugs....but still!!

Surprisingly, she really seems to be okay. The other birds must have known she was down there and kept her company a little bit, because they didn't act the least bit surprised to see her. i'm still just totally shocked by the situation...just WOW. i'm so glad i found her when i did, i can't imagine she would have survived much longer under that container.

So that has been our excitement this week. :)

We had a super busy couple weeks with Sage's birthday, my folks visiting and my boy attending a summer enrichment program. i have several giveaways and artist features lined up as well, and lots of projects i'm working on! So i hope to get caught up on that soon, and share some photos of my garden and the past couple weeks.

i hope you are all enjoying your summer as much as we are!

1 comment:

  1. This story makes me giggle! I am so glad there was a happy ending to this tale :o)