Monday, April 13, 2009
It had to happen sooner or later. I knew this day was coming. The day the hens could no longer free range.
For the last year the girls have had free run of the place during the day and locked up safe at night. Our small farm is fully fenced with field fencing and the hens never scratched beyond the line. I knew I was on borrowed time...or should I say they were on borrowed time. But every morning they stood at the front of their coop begging to get out and every morning I let them out because I had gotten complacent. Nothing bad had ever happened.
I was met at the gate by the neighbor and her boy. A few of the hens were over in their fenced yard. The chickens had gone through two fences and several lots to get there.
And their dog had killed one of my Silver-Laced Wyandottes.
I went over and 3 hens were trapped behind the fence, knowing the way they needed to go to get home but unable to get back over the fence.
The lot was heavily wooded at one end and the hens kept diving into the heavy underbrush to get away. So with the help of an over-enthusiastic 12 year old boy and his very kind mother, we proceeded to herd those confused hens in the pouring down rain. Time after time they got around us and dove back in the woods. After about an hour of this I was pretty discouraged and wanted to give up. I told the lady that they could just find their own way home. But the neighbor smiled sweetly and said she would like to let her dog out sometime tonight and really didn't want her killing anymore chickens.
So back into the woods I dove.
I apologized profusely and told them that they could go back into the house and I would keep working on it...remember it's pouring down cold, cold rain....and the twelve year old was screwing up my chicken herding.
But once again she smiled sweetly and said that they weren't doing anything anyway since the baseball practice was called on account of rain and they would be happy to help.
So while I barked orders we, like a well oiled machine, herded those chickens through the woods, across the field, and out the gate. As the boy closed the gate and I chased the girls down the road with a stick I thanked them for all their help and assured them that the girls were going to be locked up from now on.
It was a hard lesson...especially for the Wyandotte....but a lesson I knew I needed to learn. Not only did I lose a great little hen, I bothered a family that just wanted to get on with their evening and not see their beloved Daisy kill one of Mrs. W's pet chickens.
I think I owe them a dozen eggs!