We Have Hens part 2
As I said, NO HENS! I didn’t panic. I quickly parked the car, glad I had packed cold groceries in the ice chest, grabbed my big hat & took off running to where the coop was parked next to the barn. Of course, puppies were excited – Mom was running! Idiot dogs! I ran back to the house, locked the dogs in the garage with their water. Mason was thrilled. He loves sleeping on the cool concrete floor of the garage.
Running back to the coop, not quite out of breath, but note to self: work on your cardio! The red line was not on the fence. It was hanging down & clicking which makes me think the electric fence was working. I do not know why it was hanging down. Did DH not attach it? Did the pups knock it loose? Doesn’t matter. I turn off the power & quietly walk to the coop.
Praise the Lord – 2 hens are inside & seem unscathed! So where is everyone else? I reattached the roosts inside the coop (not good! dogs got inside?) & close the end door of the coop. I close the small door of the run, pick up the overturned range feeder & close the larger door while I refill the feeder.
I call the hens, like I call Harry & Carole’s hens who actually run to me when I call, but mine are still skittish & this isn’t going to help. I reset the fence but leave the power off. That’s when I hear chickens. One was coming from the neighboring pasture fence row, very agitated but obviously wanting to be back with her sisters. I lay the fence down on that side, open the big run door then step back, all the time speaking quietly to the henny-pennies. That makes 3 of 8.
Walking around the hedgerow & the garden hoping they haven’t gone too far, I see feathers in different places but no blood – good! They should have survived.
It’s been a couple of hours, I still have groceries to unload, I’m hot, tired & aggravated. Time to take a break.
Back to it, this time with Dixon on a leash to maybe sniff out the hens. He does! He pulls me to the garden fence & lays down as I hear the hen squawk. A solid black hen, missing all of her tail feathers is trying to move away from the dog through a large canna. I manage to catch her in my hands & pull her close because the puppy thinks it’s time to play again. Sternly admonished he goes down quickly. Hen goes back to the coop, poor little thing. No blood, but no feathers – she should heal. 4 of 8.
I need to pick raspberries having not been in the garden for a few days, okra, purple hull peas & bell peppers, too. Shorts & sleeveless top, I step into the bramble & hear a chicken! Trying to coax her out doesn’t work but it does get me seriously scratched up. Every time I get her near & reach out my long-handled net she goes under the plants the other direction. Frustrated, I call Harry. “Please help!” He comes quickly. He goes to one end, I go to the other, he pokes at her with his long-handled net, I wave my arms & she’s out! Gently guiding her to the coop, she’s in! 5 of 8.
Harry & I walked the top of the hill but no more chickens were seen. He advised that I wait until evening, “They should come home to the coop as the sun goes down. Be patient, leave the fence down & the pups locked up.” Okay. Not like I really have a choice.
Sun goes down. I walk out. 2 hens, pretty as you please, are walking around the fence trying to find a way in. I lower the fence on their side, open the run door, walk around the coop encouraging them to the door side & rejoice when they walk inside! Fence raised again. 7 of 8. Where is the last one?
Tuesday – no #8. Tuesday evening, DH flies in & wants to know why the pups are in the garage. A brief, limited explanation ensues. Better to tell him a little at a time.
Wednesday – DH going to help me move the coop into the old dog yard/kennel. Puppies on leashes we walk to the barn, take the semi-permanent dog fence down, take the electric fence down. By this time the hens are back in the coop; they had been scratching around in the run. We are about to move the coop when the dogs dart toward the hedgerow fence & I see something move. A hen! DH grabs the leashes & I go down on my knees into the privet, poison ivy & every other noxious thing you can think of in a hedgerow. She is trying to get through the fence but not successful – HURRAH! I gently take her in my arms holding her wings down, talking/cooing to her & place her in the run with her sisters. That’s when DH gets the rest of the story – the story of the missing hen.
The move took a bit of elbow-grease, then reattaching the run, leveling the waterer, setting the feed then admonishing the dogs when they got too close to the fence. Safe, I hope.
It took a couple of hours for the girls to venture into the run then out of the run into the grass. They are still skittish & go into the coop when I step too near the fence or into the yard. We are going to free-range these ladies once the permanent coop gets built & the puppies get trained a bit: just because hens squeak when you pull their feathers does not mean they are toys. Note to self: no more squeaky toys for the dogs!
3 eggs on Sunday. 4 eggs were waiting on Monday. 2 eggs Tuesday (1 a double-yoker) 2 eggs so far Wednesday. Not bad for very upset henny-pennies!