Before I leave to go anywhere, I check on the ladies, just to make sure they are all there. Two of them can slide under the fence. The other one is too fat to do so and doesn’t even attempt it. They usually only escape when they hear me working in the garden and want to join in. They’ll slip out and help me weed. I’ll usually go grab Amelia (the fat yellow one) so she doesn’t feel left out.
But we have had reports from a couple of neighbors that they were spotted wandering around outside the confines of their lovely fenced yard, which is worrisome to me. Loose dogs, angry kids, large mean cats…these are all common predators in urban chicken life.
So before I left the house yesterday I went out back, peered over the fence…no chickens. It wasn’t raining…so they weren’t under the coop staying dry. “Heeerrrre chick, chick, chiiick.” No chickens. Every single time I walk into the back yard, the run to me. No exception. This time…nada.
I looked around our small backyard highly confused. I opened the coop, peered in…no chickens. I looked behind the compost and the bushes…No chickens. I walked around the house…no chickens. I peered into neighbors yards and under their porches…no chickens.
Okay at this point I’m panicking, assuming that they were all three carried off by the Bald Eagle residents of the Willamette River, which is three blocks from our house. I walked back into the yard again…my hopes dashed, feeling quite helpless and sad. I basically started screeching, “Chick, chick, chick, chick, chick, chick, CCHHIIIICCCKKK.” “HEEERREEEE CHICK CHICK CHIIIICK!”
They must have been able to understand what that call was communicating, which was, “Please, oh please say you are here!” “I’m freaking out ladies!!” Because the next sound I heard was a soft and distant, “Bbbuurrrrrrrruuck”. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from! I heard it again, a little louder this time, “Bbuuurrrruckcluck!”
It sounded like it was coming from the direction of the coop, where I had already looked. But I ran over there anyways and looked inside where I didn’t see anything. But sure enough loud and clear, “Buurruuucckclcuk!” I basically crawled inside and when I did so, I realized I had never checked the laying boxes. Why would I!? They were all missing and all three of them can’t cram into one laying box! Plus usually, if they’re not too into the egg-laying process, they actually run out of the laying box when I come outside.
But here is what I found.
All three of them, crammed into the box. They stood up when I opened the lid, appalled that I would do such a thing while they were in the middle of such a thing. Amelia (the yellow one) was quite upset, as you can see by her raised feathers. She always acts a little broody. I know flocks of chickens like to share laying boxes, to lay in “community” if you will. But this is not a typical sight. Sometimes two but not ever all three.
Anyway I snapped a picture, which captured their death stares but doesn’t capture the low, growly clucks that were getting thrown my way. I closed the lid and heard the clucks fade away as they began to nestle back into position. These hens are so neurotic. Honestly though, I’m just glad they’re not eagle snacks.