Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Neglect and Consequences

Today was the scariest chicken day ever. I let the chicks out this morning when I fed them--kind of on purpose and kind of because three of them got out when I went in the pen anyway. I decided that they could stay outside on their own for a bit, and I went in to take a shower. As I was showering, I heard a sound like something had fallen. I few minutes later I heard it again. I figured that I had not latched the back door properly and the wind was blowing it against the house. After I'd gotten dressed, I went to see what was up. Everything looked fine. Nothing had fallen inside and the door was latched, but Honey was on the back porch. The chicks never get that close to the house. I picked her up and walked back to the coop. I didn't see any of the other chickens. None. Not a one.

Usually they're in a group, rooting around in the garden or in the roses. No chickens anywhere. I looked and looked. Nothing. Ten minutes later, after I've looked over the fence into all my neighbors' yards, I find Birdie and Bee hidden in some undergrowth behind the dirt pile. I put them in the pen, but cannot imagine where the little ones are. I look in the all the places I've already looked. I go back towards the house where I think I hear something. I looked in the cast iron plants by the porch. Nothing. Finally, I go up on the porch and look behind some plywood leaning against the house: two chickens--Myrtle and Ethel are hiding there. At this point, I'm convinced that Rosemary has been carried away by a hawk. I don't see any feathers, but I've looked everywhere and haven't seen her, and the chickens are so deeply hidden that something must have really scared them.

I pick up Mrytle and take her to the coop. Silly Ethel runs towards the coop, but doesn't go inside or want me to pick her up. As I start to chase Ethel, Rosemary appears! Where she was, I haven't a clue. I spent the next twenty minutes chasing chickens round and round the coop before finally getting them all in. I can't tell you how scared I was or how awful a chicken mom I felt. I've gotten too lax in letting them out. I have decided to take the Mr. Bennet approach to chicken parenting now and will tell the chicks: "You are never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner.'' I wonder how long my resolve will last.

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