Yesterday, G* came by on his way to work when I called to tell him we lost another young one. He sees his egg source slipping away, he does. G spent about half an hour putting new fence over holes in the chicken wire attached to the roof of the coop, nailing on a board or two. When The Dude got home, he put more boards on spots he knew had weaknesses. Neither thinks something could come up through the floor boards, just over the top.
And when I came home from my writing group last night, The Dude had left me an email, which I paraphrase:
He was watching the chickens from the house to see when they went into the coop so he could go down and shut the hatch. He thought he saw one outside the fence, so he went down to check. One of the new girls got out. He rounded her up (much more difficult than one of the domesticated girls) and put her back in. Several appear to be pretty good fliers at their current weight. So his theory is that she flew out. We've both checked the fence line and can't find another opening. Shades of Walkabout. Not her baby, but has her genes. They came from the same farm, I'm sure.
So The Dude now doubts his count of 17 the night before. He's no longer certain he had them all locked in. Since there was no clear sign of a new struggle, no door unlatched, this is a welcome thought. Not something getting into the coop. Something getting out. Of course, if she did, she's fox food by now. The fact that I didn't see her in the morning outside the barn would indicate she's gone one way or the other.
And finally from The Dude's note, as he stood in the coop last night, rapping old girls on the beak for aggression, one of the babies flew off the top runf of the roost and onto his shoulder. Perched there and settled down, as if for the night. He was startled, but quite pleased. Animals like The Dude.
So to recap:
One baby lost because the door wasn't latched; full evidence of the event available
One old hen lost due to disease or injuries sustained when the door wasn't latched
One baby flew the coop (?) leaving no trace of her adventures
One baby flew the coop and was recaptured
The coop roof, walls, floor have all been tested and secured
I'm beginning to see stories in stories in stories in these farm adventures...
*I'm going to need a better name than "G" for G. He's a historical fiction writer (Virginia and Civil War his specialty) still waiting for his book contract. For food and shelter he paints and does various repairs. We met when he prepped our townhouse for sale and he's done work on this house for the past six years. He just finished replacing the roof on my cabin. He's also the big brother I never had, e.g. coming and spending half an hour sealing up the coop yesterday morning.