Sunflower seeds? Dried meal worms? Leftover oatmeal from breakfast? The girls are used to my presence and most curious about what treats I’m bringing to the pen. They gather round and if I’m slow to dispense, they help by jumping up and wresting goodies from my hand. Greedy little things. But when I enter with the purpose being, I am going to catch you and carry you to green pastures and quiet waters, they don’t believe me. Especially Flannery. The other hens are tolerably submissive. I shouldn’t wonder if their squatting trembling posture when I reach for them has to do with a rooster’s expectations, not that I dwell on that too much. So, not much trouble. But Flannery doesn’t believe that’s what I’m up to, so must be chased around the pen and under the coop until at last I corner her, grab her as she indignantly protests like I’m going to kill and eat her for dinner. I tell her to shut up or I might.
A perfect day for letting chickens into my fenced vegetable garden – bright and sunny. A safe place for chicken delight with a buffet of decaying tomatoes, worms and creepy insects just a scratch and peck away from gourmet paradise.
I leave them happily scavenging under the bean stalks with fresh water available in a bucket because it’s a warm day and they are already panting, their beaks parted in a chickeny smiles, but they should be okay for a good while.
Two hours later I jump up from my desk having forgotten my promise to check on them every hour. I ran to the garden and saw that Eudora and Anne had escaped through the “gate” and wandering close to the neighbor’s yard. I say “gate” because it is hardly that – just fencing tacked to a board and wires hooked together. No wonder they got out. Jane is still stuck inside frantically running back and forth because her friends are way over there and I’m here! Most distressing: Flannery is missing.
I herded the little flock back to the pen and began searching for Flannery until I noticed a soft chicken murmur, coming from the nesting box. Craaaawck, craaawck. Lifting the lid, there was Flannery, calmly sitting on the straw doing her business. That’s when I realized, she not only escaped the garden, she made her way back to the coop because that’s where eggs are supposed to be laid. What a good little hen!
So now I know. Flannery is not an early riser like the others. She’s like me – a little prone to procrastination, but when you need to get your work done you get cracking, head for your desk and lay those eggs.