I don’t always close the chicken coop. But tonight I did. The weather had turned and I’ve gotten over 3 inches of rain in the last 36 hours.
It was dark, wet, and windy. I pulled on my raincoat, grabbed a flashlight and slipped on my boots. Trudging through the rain, almost slipping my way down the mud-soaked path, I closed the pop-door and went in the coop. They were all on their roosts, settling for the night. They all have their particular spots that they roost.
I turned to leave and stopped. On a whim I counted. Twenty-five. I was short one. I counted again, and realized which chicken was missing.
Cheetah – Tess' bantam Sicilian buttercup hen. She’s tiny; lays tiny white eggs in very unlikely places – rarely in the next box.
I checked the roosts, to make sure she wasn’t scrunched up next to someone to keep warm. Nope. Managed to annoy quite a few of the hens, trying to see if she was hiding.
Back outside, with the wind blowing the rain sideways, I checked around the coop, shining the flashlight in all the dry-ish little nooks and crannies. Nope. Trudging across the yard, I checked the dog house and the other smaller coops that aren’t in use right now.
Then I saw her. She was huddled in the corner against the house, sopping wet. She’s a skittish little bird and doesn’t like being held, but she didn’t run or fight at all. I picked her up, setting her in the crook of my arm to keep her a bit drier. She didn’t squirm.
I carried her back into the coop and set her on the roost. She just sat there shivering and staring at me. Then, slowly, she started “purring”- little chirpy, purry noises. Still shivering, she shook and fluffed her feathers a bit, then cuddled up next to the rooster who almost tucked her under his wing, chirping back at her.
I left and trudged back up to the house. My pants were sopping wet, my coat dripping water, my boots covered in red mud.
But I felt better.