Last weekend, during the downpour, one of the chickens flew over the chicken pen fence into my garden. I managed to herd her back into the pen but it took four or five laps through the garden, around the pen, around the hen house, and back into the garden. She finally darted in the open gate (the rest of the chickens were inside the hen house where it was dry). She was very wet and upset. I understand now where the phrase "mad as a wet hen" comes from.
Yesterday morning as I sat at my desk at work, sipping on my coffee, and scanning my inbox, my cell phone chirped. It was Brett, asking me to call home. The chicken had flown over the fence into the garden almost as soon as he opened the hen house. We decided to leave her in the garden for the day and Brett would herd her back in at dusk, when the rest of the flock retired for the night into the hen house.
Mid-day Brett sent a status report: She's still clucking away. Looking for a way in. If Sedona were here she'd be dead.
Then, at dusk: Tried for ten minutes to get the chicken in. Couldn't get her to go in. Done trying. Going to take a shower.
Followed by: There's no wine open. Need some.
When I got home at 7pm, it was very dark. I changed into my jeans, a sweatshirt, a jacket, gloves and grabbed a flashlight. I walked all through the garden, shining the light into all my fruit trees but didn't see her anywhere. I walked down by the stream bed and out to the dressage court. Two feathers by the garden gate, nothing more.
Laying in bed, I tried to sleep but instead kept thinking about the chicken. What got her? A hawk? Skunk? Raccoon? Why weren't there more feathers? I tried not to care but wasn't too successful.
In the morning as I dressed for work, Brett went out to start the morning chores. Lo and behold, there was the chicken. She ran into the pen and greeted her flock-mates. And she stayed inside today.
Meanwhile, I did a little research. Her breed, the Lakenvelder, is rare -- which is why I bought her. They are small, average layers with little meat on their bones. They are also flighty, active birds. They fly better than average and like to forage far and wide. They are distrustful of people (read hard to catch). They are also more savvy than most chickens about hawks. No wonder they are rare! If you want eggs or meat or a pet they aren't a good choice. If you want a pretty chicken running around your ranch, then they fit the bill. I guess that works for us.
We have two. I've named one of them Amelia and the other Earhart.