I let the chickens out of the coop when I went out to clip the spent daylilies this morning. The 18 pullets have begun to lay eggs while only a couple of the original flock, now reduced to only six, lay an egg now and then. We can’t predict the number of daily eggs, yet, but we hope they’ll settle into a nice production routine.
Moments ago, I heard the shriek of a red tail hawk and went out to check the hens. We think a young hawk has dive-bombed the flock unsuccessfully a few times. While it hasn’t taken any, it’s trained them to be extremely watchful for daytime predators from above.
On Friday, while Savannah was mowing the lawn, she saw the flock happily pecking at whatever chickens peck at in the grass near the raspberry patch. I went out later for a turn at mowing and saw one lone white and black speckled hen cowering in the raspberries. Eight more were hiding in the coop and one was in a dark back corner of the barn. That meant 14 were missing and, try as I might, I couldn’t find them. Later, all of them came out of hiding, from the densest part of the herb garden. The mint and marshmallow, oregano, and a stray squash vine shielded them from preying eyes.
Just now, when I walked out to check, Charles the resident woodchuck made a dash for his hole at the base of the basswood tree. Two yellow shafted flickers flew in opposite directions across the yard and a blue jay swooped into the oak at the far end of the lawn. I couldn’t see a hawk but sixteen of the hens were still in the coop, taking their dust baths in the shelter of the doorway. Eight have apparently scrambled for parts unknown. I hope they’re safe. I really can’t act as a daily chicken shepherd.