Return of the prodigal daughter

Last night we planned to attend a friend’s gallery opening in Providence, so Cherisse rounded up the chickens a bit early. When she made a final count, a Dominique was missing. We searched everywhere with the dogs, getting scratched in brambles, looking under every bush and up at every tree. There was no sign of her. The only conclusion we came to was she had been “snatched,” to quote Isaac. We were dismayed and worried. The “snatching” would have happened while we were out tending the bees, so we (and the dogs) were around, theoretically offering protection—although the chickens are venturing further afield these days, and it wouldn’t really be difficult for a hawk to swoop down and silently grab one.

Aside from being sad (the Dominiques are my favorites…they are the prettiest and sweetest), the loss of one would make us question letting the rest out (and risk getting picked off). Our original motivation was saving Featherfoot from being de-feathered, but after a brief respite it is happening again. Just the other day I commented on her beautiful neck feathers; today almost all are gone, exposing prickly chicken skin. However, the chickens are so happy roaming about and they create a ruckus in their outdoor enclosure until they are released. So what to do.

With heavy hearts we stayed home in case she returned and tried to get to her roost. Finally we gave up all hope and went to bed. The rooster crowed at dawn this morning and, shortly after, Cherisse looked out the window. There was a Dominique, pecking away under the bird feeder, completely unharmed and unbothered by her night outdoors. Now they are all out, digging up worms and grubs in the wet earth, unaware they almost lost their freedom.

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