The night before E could not fall asleep and I was still sitting with her at 11. When I got up at the lazy hour of 6:45, she was already up. Since she normally gets 10 hours of sleep, this did not bode well for the rest of the day. Especially as we thought we still had time to play Easter bunny outdoors. So the Dude started a fire and went out to get wood with eggs in his pockets. And then I went out at 8 to let the chickens out with more eggs in my pockets. We're sneaky that way. 31 eggs, btw. A cat rearranged a few. E still loves hunting eggs. She loves it so much she begged her aunt to hide them again and again for the rest of the day...twice more outside and once inside. But the first time? Oh, that was the Easter bunny that hid those.
Oddly, I could only count 18 hens instead of 19, no matter how many times I counted. I've been down this road before. There were the seven in the old guard and eleven new kids. Not an even dozen. There was an unshelled egg by the hatch and some feathers and when I arrived, the door to the coop was unlatched. But no feathers in the barn. And the hatch had been latched shut.
Well, I got the Dude to help me count several more times and we prowled around looking for feathers. We found them on the back side of the barn near the garden shed and followed the trail to the property line where we have our grass mulch pile. Lots of feathers there. Clearly the kill spot.
But it's a mystery as to what happened, other than it involved the Dude having forgotten to latch the door last night. One theory is that something was actually in the coop, a fox we suspect. Another theory is that when a big girl got down to lay an egg there was an altercation and a baby pushed the door open and sort of fell/flew out. Then headed for the spot where the cats and woodchucks go in and out of the barn in the back wall because it was dawn and there was light. And then was caught. Because there weren't any feathers at the hole as if she had been dragged through there. Or it was some combination of the two.
But there's no body to be found. Which means she will not join the others in the hen graveyard in the bottom of the dry vernal pond. Which is a really good indication of just how dry we are starting this year. We don't even have enough water in the pond to have spring peepers and frogs this year. I've only heard them in the distance in the swamp.
So a little one is gone already. Well, even a fox has to eat and if we're stupid enough to leave the latch off, these things can happen. But you can bet the Dude double-checked every latch tonight.