When we brought home our pair of Buff Orpingtons this summer, they were promptly named Mary Kate and Ashley. The names stuck and they were definitely twins, always together. These mammoth girls ran their chicken domain with ease and pleasure, never hesitating to dole out punishment to their underlings. A peck here and a peck there kept everyone else in line. They occupied the top spot in the roost, always closest to the window. There is indeed a pecking order in the world of chickens, and in the world of humans also.
Yesterday, while the girls were free-ranging, I went to the compost bin to take out the kitchen scraps. Wherever the chickens are in the yard, they run toward me at full throttle when they hear me outside. But they didn’t yesterday. After I put the scraps in the compost bin, I noticed Baby poking her head out from the bushes around the tree, then Ashley and Madea but they wouldn’t come out. Instantly, I knew something was going on. Where were the other three chickens? I called and called for them and walked around the yard. The three chickens that had been under the tree followed my every step. Red, my Rhode Island, appeared from the bushes by the house and the others ran to her and stayed there. Four chickens accounted for but Whitey and Mary Kate were still missing.
About an hour before dusk, Whitey appeared from the woods behind our house. The HH had looked earlier but didn’t see the missing hens. As he walked around the back of the yard again, he found Mary Kate. Something had killed her at the edge of the woods.
Last night, when I peered into the coop, the hens were roosting quietly. No one was roosting in Mary Kate’s spot as if the hens held this place for her in hopes she would return.
This morning, when I opened the coop, the girls did not want to come out. They would come out and eat a little and then hop back inside their safe shelter. They are grieving for their friend and leader.
When we first bought our chickens we were unsure about letting them free-range. They are so good about staying in our yard that we decided we would take the risk because of the immense pleasure it gives them to be out of their coop. When we open the coop door they run as hard as they can go and wildly flap their wings. They eat bugs as they happily chirp amongst themselves. Knowing all this does not make it easy when you lose one of your flock. Losing any pet is difficult, even a chicken.
Girl # 2 bought a fairy costume for her kitten, Noche. The kitten did not like this costume so girl # 2 sent it over for our animals to try. No, I didn’t put it on the chickens! We tried it on the dog who also did not like the costume, literally freezing in place until we took it off. The kitten liked it even less as you can see from the video link below. Our sweet kitten Ninja suddenly became the drunk cat that falls down constantly.