By Diane Lockspeiser
We had bought a kit from Tractor Supply to make the little “honeymoon cottage,” as one friend called it. The weather turned cold and nasty soon after, so it stayed unopened and safe in the barn. Meanwhile, I went ahead and bought a new set of pullets (female chicks) and set them up in a playpen in our front den.
The plan had been to keep our last remaining rooster, Rocky, and his lady hen Adrian in a small new coop in order for them to continue pasturing in our yard while we set up a new group of chickens to be contained in the big old coop and its attached enclosed yard. That way Rocky couldn’t harass the new young chickens, as roosters tend to do.
Sometime during the Winter, Adrian had taken to going inside the big plastic bag of fresh wood chips for bedding to lay her egg. I had thought that she had totally stopped laying eggs since I wasn’t finding any in the nesting boxes. Then one day she startled me by popping her head out of the almost empty bag as I searched for eggs. There were several eggs in the bag, most of them ruined by being frozen, but that hadn’t stopped her from continuing to lay eggs in there. If I closed up the bag, she managed to open it again. If I took it away, she stopped laying at all. So I relented, and started to make sure that she always had a comfy spot within the bag.
The weather warmed up and I started planning where to build the new little coop. One afternoon, I heard Rocky crowing and carrying on as he often did whenever he lost sight of Adrian. I looked outside and didn’t see her either. Quick thought had me looking in the coop and, sure enough, she was there in her bag. At the time I thought it was funny.
That night as I closed up the coop, however, Adrian was in her usual spot on the roosting bar, but Rocky was missing. I searched the yard with a flashlight and there was no sign of him, not even a feather.
When a fox nabs a chicken, there’s usually a trail of feathers left behind. No sign at all indicates a much quicker getaway, such as a hawk, eagle, or owl could accomplish.
I sometimes wonder if Rocky had been really searching for Adrian, as I had thought, or if he had sensed the danger and was distracting the predator away from his lady love. I’ll never know.
Adrian now stays contained in the old coop and its yard, recently joined by the new bunch of young ladies. She still insists on laying her egg inside the bag.
And, thankfully, Tractor Supply is good about returns.~