I used to count the chickens every night, and I mourned when one was missing. Sometimes the errant bird showed up, sometimes not. I started with 26 chickens, and by the time the new chicks arrived this year, I only had nine of them left - one rooster and eight layers.
I had losses from this year's chicks. The hatchery replaced ten of them. By the time I took them out to the Moop to join the other chickens, there were a total of 54, two roosters and 52 layers or pullets.
I haven't counted in quite some time. Too many of them, and so heartbreaking when the number isn't right. We lost one to a hawk, and second one didn't make it into the Moop on a cold night. I found her body in the snow outside the pen. Both were Campines, my favorites. So now we keep a bit of hay under the Moop and make sure the gate is open at night, just in case some errant girl is out and about at sunset when I close the lid on the Moop.
About a week ago, I did a count, flashlight in hand. There should have been 52. I counted only 47, so that meant I had lost another five at some point. No bodies were found lying around, so I could only imagine that a critter dragged them off.
Last night, I bravely decided to do another count, even though I knew I would be very depressed if the number was less than 47. There were 52! The Buckeyes are solid dark brown and tend to bunch on the floor in corners. I am assuming I just did a terrible job of counting last week. My heart soared to know that all of the cluckers were still there!
I am in love with these chickens. But you knew that. :)