Monday, 17 March 2014

Crisis in the hen hut.

When the farmer let the hens out yesterday morning, one failed to emerge.   On looking inside he found that one of our new 'point of lay' pullets had died overnight, so we were down to 5 new ones.  Hens do have a nasty habit of dying for no apparent reason, but it is still sad as they were settling in so well.

The remaining 5, along with my old hens and my Buff Orpington cockerel, wandered around in the field all day, pecking about and generally enjoying themselves.   If there was any bullying of the new ones I certainly didn't see it.  Everything seemed fine.

When the farmer went to shut them in at dusk, the old hens and the cockerel were perched in their usual place.   Of the new hens there was absolutely no sign.   By this time it was almost dark.

So, suitably clad (it was cold and windy) we wandered around the yard with flash lights, calling them - not a sign.   After half an hour of searching we found two of them perched on the straw.   We caught them and put them in the hut and began to search again.   After ten minutes or so we found another two - this time sitting in the tractor cab.   One left - and there was no sign.

This morning there is still no sign of it.   They have all been fed and are out again, so it looks as though one might have disappeared.  I wondered about a marauding fox but the farmer says they are more
likely to be around in the very early morning.

I hope she turns up - it is so sad to lose one and not know where it has gone - but I fear we shall not see her again.

On a brighter note - a long-haired black and white tom cat seems to have adopted us as foster parents.  Blackie and Creamy seem quite happy for him to be around and he is always there for food morning and evening, but won't allow us anywhere near him.   Should he get tamer then perhaps we can catch him and take him to the vet to get him some injections - but that seems unlikely as the farmer says he doesn't seem to be a cat who has ever had a 'proper' home.

Who was it who said, "I am the cat that walks alone; all places are alike to me."  ? 

***Update.   She has turned up and our worst fears were unfounded.   She appears to have spent the night under the tractor and when the farmer started it up this morning she strolled out as though that was a normal place to take up residence.

As for the cat attacking her - the farmer doesn't think it would happen, particularly as the cat is well-fed (by us as he joins our two for their twice-daily feed).


Tom Stephenson said...

Now am I the only one cynical enough to make a possible connection between the disappearance of your chicken and the arrival of a tom cat?

Arija said...

So sorry for the loss of two of your chickens. Chickens like sheep die for no apparent reason. That's just how it is.
I lost three out of four of our chicks, one that was two months old and seemed to have had a stroke.
We had a ginger Tom once who stole chickens and brought them home. He was even featured in the local paper as the 'Surrey hills fox!
If the cat had something to do with the missing chicken, there would have been feathery evidence around.

John Going Gently said...

I have never seen a cat, even a feral cat kill a chicken
So it sounds like a chance kill by a fox.
Sounds like bullying too, if the new gals refused to go back into the hen house....
God they can be stupid birds sometimes

Barbara said...

So sorry to hear of the "crisis in the hen hut". I do hate unexplained death and disappearances!
I must say, I wondered at the possible connection between the cat and chickens,too. But, it does seem highly unlikely.
Here's hoping for health and prosperity for the remaining chickens!

Elizabeth said...

Interesting to hear your continuing adventures.
Post photo of new cat!

MorningAJ said...

I hate it when any animal/bird goes missing without explanation. Luckily, most of mine who've done it have turned up again later and behaved like nothing was different. Cats usually, to be fair. Heaven knows where any of them went - though I now suspect that Maisie found the bottom shelf in the wardrobe when she went AWOL.

Willow said...

Glas she is found and fine :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

Sorry you lost some hens, glad you found the other one.

Hope your new cat keeps away from the hens!

Crafty Green Poet said...

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Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

She was probably just watching late night TV and fell asleep on the couch. Um-hum. Isn't that what teenagers alway say?

Heather said...

So pleased the other hen turned up. It's such a worry when an animal goes missing and sad about the one that died. Hope the rest grow up strong and healthy and lay plenty of lovely eggs for you.
At least your new 'lodger' is a tom cat - you won't be burdened with unwanted kittens.

Penny said...

The quote is from one of Kipling's poems. Glad you found her

angryparsnip said...

I just hope there isn't some bullying in the hen house. Maybe that why they didn't want to go in ?

I hope the new cat isn't sick and I assume has not been fixed ? Don't know if you want a litter of kittens.

cheers, parsnip

Dartford Warbler said...

So pleased that the lost hen turned up after all!

If you do want to catch the feral puss, Cats Protection have humane cages to do this and will help. Our dear ginger and white boy was quite wild when he first turned up. A special visit to the vet sorted him out and also mended an open wound. It took weeks to touch him but now he`s a wonderful home loving cat.

Casey said...

I'm pretty sure cats don't mess with chickens, much. Glad the lost one showed up.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I'm glad the lost chickens are come home. It is always one thing or another.

Anonymous said...

We had a well-behaved cat once, but caught him with one of our chickens in his mouth. We were horrified and shouted at him. He dropped it immediately with a "not a good idea then?" look on his face. Stayed away from them after that.

Anonymous said...

We had a well-behaved cat once, but caught him with one of our chickens in his mouth. We were horrified and shouted at him. He dropped it immediately with a "not a good idea then?" look on his face. Stayed away from them after that.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like the idea of the Cats Protection League cage for catching the stray - and shall follow it up if the tom stays around.

I think John's comment about their stupidity is true - chickens do not seem to have an ounce of common sense.

Thanks for calling in.

Terry and Linda said...

I just lost my last little hen last night. Just broke me down in tears. I held her and told her she is loved by me...she gathered all her strength and looked me in my eye and say some little chickie talk. Then she was gone.

I am so sad.

✿♥ღ Linda