Yesterday I said all of the animals stayed put. How wrong I was! I didn't get out to the Moop until well after dark. I hadn't seen any chickens running around outside the fence earlier, so I was quite sure they were all there and didn't even bother to take the flashlight with me for a head count.
When I carried their feeders into the Moop, I looked at the shadowy figures sitting on the top rung of the perch. It didn't seem like it was as full as usual, but it was quite dark in there, so I thought it was probably my imagination. However, I knew I wouldn't rest easy if I didn't count. As I have mentioned before, chickens in the dark are a lot more friendly than chickens in broad daylight, so I stroked each shadowy back as I counted. One...two...three...four...five...six...seven...eight...nine...ten...eleven...twelve . . . . . . . Nothing! There are supposed to be fifteen chickens, not twelve! I counted again. Still twelve. I went back to the house for the flashlight, shined it on the row of chickens, and yes, there were twelve. Only twelve.
Usually I get out to button them up while there is still a bit of daylight, and if there are any chickens on the outside, they will be running around looking for a way to get back in. I am still curious as to how they can get OUT but cannot get IN. Anyway, by waiting until dark to go out there, any stray chickens had long since found a place to roost in the woods, and they were not going to come anywhere near the chicken yard once they were roosting. They were in for the night, wherever "in" was.
I did not sleep well last night. Berating myself for not getting that electric netting to enclose them, I finally took half a sleeping pill and tried to forget it. I dreamed of chickens. I would wake in the night and wonder if the three miscreants were dead.
Saturdays are my biggest market day, and I'm always up at 5:00. It is still pitch dark at that hour. By 7:00, I gave it a try. It was still dark, but there were hints of dawn's light in the eastern sky. There were no chickens to be found. I propped their gate wide open and finished getting ready, loading the car with veggies and going out to the barn to pick up the shareholders' milk for delivery to the market.
Okay, one last try. As I walked back to the pen, there they were, all three of them, looking quite bedraggled and a bit put out. It had rained all night, not the best night to be out and about. Maybe it was not such a great night for the coons and the possums to be out either, which may account for their having survived to see another day. At any rate, as of 7:30 this morning, there were 15 chickens again.
I just buttoned them up tonight. Still 15 chickens. They must have decided one night on the town was enough.
Count tonight is 15 chickens, 3 calves, 3 heifers inside the fence, 1 small cat and 1 large black dog. I shall sleep better tonight.