- The first recognizable rooster crow of a young cock.
- The first egg of a young pullet.
- The first observed mating of said rooster and pullet.
- The first slaughtering of a familiar chicken.
You get the picture.
This past Friday (Friday the 13th, wouldn't ya know), we had the unfortunate experience of having our first UFO - Unexpected Fowl Obfuscation. In other words, a chicken has gone missing.
To bring you up to speed on the poultry of The Shire - as of last week we had one rooster and eight hens. On most fair weather days the chickens have free run of The Shire as long as a human is present on the property. Otherwise, they are sequestered to their coop and coop yard. Never have we, during the day, seen or heard any predators that might threaten chicken safety - the dogs of The Shire are quick to alert us to any interlopers. The chickens also have a helpful habit of remaining on (or at the fence line of) our 2+ acres, which keeps them safe from potential dangers on neighboring properties.
Friday afternoon TMOTH was working outside and completed a head count of the chickens around 1pm. When I arrived home after 4pm I soon decided to herd the chickens to the coop in advance of bonfire happenings scheduled later that evening. But, I discovered, the hens only numbered seven. Pat was missing.
We called. We shook the corn can. We rang the chicken dinner bell. No Pat.
Together with the girls we scoured the perimeter of the property, calling for Pat and looking for signs of foul (fowl) play.
Have you seen this chicken?
Since Friday we've completed several more futile perimeter walks.
At this point, I'm thinkin' alien abduction or Sasquatch. Or, it might possibly be due to the stray dogs TMOTH saw running nearby two days prior. Or even hawks or owls. But seriously, it's probably the 'Squatch.
Why did the Sasquatch cross the road? Hmm...
Since Pat was not a feathered favorite among the girls, there (thankfully) hasn't been much anguish about the loss. But Pat was a very productive hen, with pretty brown eggs and the most beautiful golden dappled plumage.
She was the alpha hen, so I wonder how much her absence will affect the flock. Does Dockers (the rooster), realize she is gone? Does he care? Is he now more paranoid about potential dangers?
And which hen will now rise to be the new alpha hen?