A stray dog got one of our hens.
It happened within hours of us leaving for the family reunion. The neighbor kids saw two unfamiliar dogs in the area, so they ran over here in time to see one of them with a chicken in its mouth, dead. Just then the dogs' owner was driving through, hollering out the window for them. She felt so bad about the chicken and left her information in case we wanted her to replace it.
We'll never be able to replace that specific chicken, lady.
Okay, maybe we will. We still can't tell our hens apart much by looks - they are just too stinkin' similar - but some of them stand out by behavior. You know about Flight Risk, whom Jason chased with rocks and a stick to get her into the coop not long ago. She's the least sociable and usually the last one in at night. There are also two hens who stick together and like to graze and explore far past where everybody else is willing to go. There's another who Jason thinks has trouble seeing or flying. She seems to be lowest gal in the pecking order, and always roosts on the bottom rung at night while the others squish onto the top two rungs together. It's pretty sad. We think it's she who is laying eggs on the floor beneath the laying boxes. She also occasionally bumps into things, making us suspect blindness. Finally, our friendliest hen was one of the slowest to mature; we knew her first by her approachability, and also more recently by her short, pale pink waddles and combs. She greets us before anybody else does, follows us the farthest, and walks boldly up to the dogs to see what's going on. Heck, I'm going to go ahead and name her Friendly Bird right now.
So, which hen got killed? Well, our worst fear was that it was Friendly Bird. There's the pet lover in us, valuing human qualities. We could just see her running up to the stray dog and squawking out a hearty, "Welcome to the neighborhood!" Then, CHOMP. When Jason got home from work mid-week, he went to see which hen it was, and it was indeed one of the two or three least mature. We were so sad. But again, by looks alone, he couldn't tell precisely who. As time has gone on, it's clear that Friendly Bird is still here! None of the others I described above seem to be gone either, so we must've lost one of our lesser known hens.
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In other chicken news, Six Dolla' Roo is gaining confidence. Whereas before, he was a bit of a pansy rooster, he now attacks people's legs from behind while they're walking away. It's actually a little funny if you know it's coming. He was de-taloned, so it doesn't hurt. He flies into your legs and flaps about, and when you turn around and look at him, he just stands there looking back.