Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Rough Night

There was hell-raising in the henhouse last night. The kind that brings us bolt upright in the bed and groping for flashlights, shoes and a gun.

It had been a strange night anyway. Clyde, our male cat, jumped up on the bed earlier and meowed continuously as he walked all over us. Clyde never does this; he's an outside boy and rarely comes in at night. And he despises being petted usually. Last night he wanted stroked, he wanted scratched, he wanted to curl up right against me. And because his behavior was so unusual I let him. I am not a pets-in-the-bed person; it disturbs my sleep and I wake up sore and cramped. But this was an unusual situation.

It was just a little while later that the ruckus in the coop began. Larry jumped up, grabbed a light and his shoes and headed down the hill to investigate. Nothing. There were two hens out in the chicken yard because he had not closed up the coop as he usually does. But other than that there was nothing out of the ordinary--except for two eyes up in a tree, watching him. The birds were highly disturbed, however, so something was going on. He put the two hens in the coop and closed it up tight.

An hour later, another racket arose. Hens sqawking, flapping, the rooster crowing repeatedly. If you have chickens you know the kind of noise I mean. Then there was one long, drawn-out wail from a hen, a sound I've come to recognize as "I'm being dragged over the hill, help! Help!" Once again Larry took off, this time taking the .22. And once again, nothing. All hens accounted for. But they were upset and chattering like crazy.

We tried to settle down to sleep again; it was 4:00am after all. Both cats jumped up on the bed. Both are supposed to be outside, you know, but Charlie in particular doesn't recognize my ruling in this matter. They curled up against me, leaving me no leg room and no possibility of changing positions. The rest of the night was not restful but at least the hens were quiet.

So what happened down there in the coop? I think it might have been a raccoon coming for a late night snack. We've had some hanging around because of the corn and perhaps they thought a side of chicken would be tasty. We may never know, but one thing is certain--the coop will be secured tonight.

And the cats will be outside and the doors closed. This old lady needs her sleep.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Sue said...

Curious and curiouser. A hen house mystery!


Quinn said...

I lost one of my hens this way on July 3rd, and I feel sick about it. It had been SO HOT and SO MUGGY for days and days, and I didn't have the heart to shut up the doors to the henhouse when they were already gasping with their beaks open at nightfall with the door open. Woke up mid night to exactly that fluttery kerfuffle and by the time I got outside there was that haertbreaking wail, sounding far from the house. As I hastened along my torch died, and the sound stopped. Next morning I found feathers all the way down along the road. I think raccoon but don't know for sure. The 22 has been by the back door ever since. This was a very good hen who had had a tough start and always did her best. I feel just awful that I let her down.

Granny Sue said...

Quinn, I understand how you feel. We feel so responsible for our animals, and try to keep them safe, but sometimes we just can't do it. Keeping hens here is a risk with so many animals about--raccoons,possums, skunks, mink, weasels, fox, snakes...and we've had issues with all of the above, None is so hard as dogs, though. That really makes me see red when a dog gets to my hens.

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