Martha has spent the past 3 nights out. All night.
Now we’ve had a bird or two before miss last call at the coop, when the door has to be secured for the safety of the flock. But in those cases the missing bird has been at the door in the morning & first in the coop the following night. This is different. Martha is scarce during the day, nowhere in site early morning & late afternoon. The first evening she was missing I searched for her after dark, flashlight in hand. The second night I wandered at dusk, looking through the cedars, barns & brush. By the third evening I just shook my head & planned for a day of stalking when the sun was up & the rain lightened.
That brings us to today. This morning I haven’t been able to find her & am thinking she may have finally been lost to the dangers of the night. But then I see her coming from the barnyard~ soaking wet & missing a small clump of feathers from the shoulder of her wing. She is ragged & skittery. As she heads for the grain-dish, I go into the tall patch of brush in front of the barn. There is the nest deep in the tall weeds, a sunken hole filled with 9 eggs. We have a brooder. Now it all makes sense & I feel guilty as I collect the eggs with no way to explain to poor Martha why. I can’t watch when she discovers the empty nest, but I see her later in the yard confused & distressed.
I am sorry Martha, with the rooster gone there will be no chicks to hatch. This evening all the hens will be safe & warm in the coop. And I may have a few nights’ rest before another nesting spot is hidden in the last place we’d think to look~
Stay tuned for a special republish of the 2009 “Chicken Chronicles” running for the 2012 chick-season.