The hay was in the feeders, the sheep, and donkeys munching away. Fate, in her border collie crouch, begged to be told to “get the sheep”. I headed towards the pole barn to muck it out and there were Kitty and Anne, looking a little at odds, but alive and well.
Now I doubted myself. I didn’t think I opened the coop before coming into the barnyard, but…
So I checked, I went to the gate and looked at chicken coop. The door was closed as I thought it would be.
That meant that Kitty and Anne spent the night outside the coop. Which is unprecedented.
I remembered taking to Jon on the way home from bellydancing, he was on his way out to close up the coop. It was after 8 pm, already dark for some time. There was no reason to believe the three hens weren’t already roosting safely in the chicken coop.
Next thing I did was check tohe coop to make sure White Hen was there. She was as usual, but she did look a bit confused.
Back in the barnyard, Kitty and Anne followed me to the gate.
I couldn’t understand what made them spend the night in the barn until I saw them go to the place where they always squeezed under the gate. Then I saw that the gate was lower to the ground than it was the day before.
Yesterday, Mike our handyman, came to the farm when Jon and I were at the Eye Doctors to cut up the fallen limb from the birch tree. He also fixed the gates, leveling them out so there was no longer a gap big enough for Fate to squeeze under.
Turns out it’s not big enough for the hens to go under either.
Kitty and Anne must have been in the barnyard when Mike fixed the gate. White Hen was probably in the coop laying an egg. When Mike left, the hens had no way of getting out of the barnyard.
I didn’t notice the difference in the gate until I saw that the Hens couldn’t get under it.
With a little proding, Kitty and Anne followed me through the gate where White Hens was calling to them from the other side.
Chickens fall into a stupor when it gets dark. There have been times when I’ve found one of the hens roosting under the coop. They have no defenses when this happens and it’s easy for me to pick them up and put them in the coop. It’s also easy for the to become prey to a fox, fisher or owl when they are in this state.
But Kitty and Anne were savvy enough to find safe shelter for the night.
I imagine they stayed in the pole barn, safe in the company of the sheep and donkeys. Beside Anne’s muddy wing, both hens seemed fine and went about their business looking for insects to eat the rest of the day.
I’m thinking of cutting a small hole in the fence so they can go into the barnyard. There’s lots of good eating for them there and they help keep down the insect population including ticks.
Even though I know the hens didn’t get into the barnyard today, tonight, when I close up the chicken coop, I’ll peek inside, just to make sure the are three hens roosting.