At least 10 - 12 years ago (maybe more?), one of Aries' co-workers asked if we'd like a chicken. A little Brown Leghorn hen had flown into their yard earlier in the year. They started feeding her and she stuck around so they named her Missy. They had no idea where she'd come from - no one nearby had chickens. She was already fully grown and laying eggs. But they didn't really have anywhere for her to stay, and they didn't think an only chicken would be very happy. Firesign Farm has long been known as a home for wayward chickens, so we said sure, we'd take her.
So Missy came to live with us. She always did fly well, and after a year or two she figured she didn't need to stay in the pen with the rest of the flock. For a few more years she'd lay her little white egg in a nest box, then fly out, spend her day scratching about around the lot, and then stand waiting to go back into the pen in the evening.
Then, one evening, she wasn't there. We thought we'd lost her to a coyote or a loose dog. But maybe a week later, I spied her getting a drink of water from the birdbath. I went out to give her some feed, and she quickly gobbled it up and then took off. I casually followed her, pretending not to be looking in her direction, but she was really sneaky - she lost me. A few days later, we did it again. Eventually, I found where she was hiding. The next time she came to drink, I snuck over there to see what she was setting on, and figured I'd better make our dog run into a brood pen. Three weeks after she first disappeared, she came down to meet me at the feed shed trailed by a dozen day-old babies. I put food and water in the dog run, and she marched them all right in.
This happened every April for years. She'd disappear, and I'd mark the calendar. I'd usually be able to follow her and find her nest eventually. In three weeks, she'd come marching back with another clutch. Half our flock are her offspring - some from when we had a RI Red rooster, later from an Amerucana. And they all drive me crazy. They all can fly out of the pen and it seems like I'm always chasing them out of the garden. They'll all go broody on me too; stop laying and want to hunker down in a nest box for weeks (so far, none of them have hidden and set on a nest, although last Spring I did find 25 eggs under a shed).
Missy stopped laying a couple of years ago. She's always had spurs, and she's so old now they're grown into complete little circles. Every day when I'm out in the yard, she comes up to me squawking and talking, begging for a handout. But today when I was outside, giving the girls a bit of corn, I noticed she didn't come over. Then, when Aries got home, he agreed with me that she didn't look like she was feeling very well. She let him pick her up (she never does that - she'll eat out of our hands, but she doesn't like to be held), and then when I offered her some corn she wouldn't eat. We put her in a nest box for the night, but I don't think she'll last much longer.