Two weeks ago, while shutting the poultry in for the night, I realized two hens were missing. Neither Penny Redstar nor Junior were in the coop. Two nights later, I finally found where Penny was roosting, up on top of a storage rack in the tool shed. After two nights of moving her back into the coop after dark, she's now been back inside every night.
But I couldn't find Junior. I didn't see her out and about during the day either, now that I was looking for her. I was hoping that coyotes hadn't gotten her (always a possibility when a chicken, or cat, won't stay inside the fences), and that she'd just hidden a nest somewhere.
Junior is so named because, of all Missy's babies, she's the one that ended up looking just like Missy (read more about our adventures with Missy here). Even though Junior looks just like a little Brown Leghorn, she's also part Amerucana and lays nice big green eggs (one sister, Baldy, also looks like Missy but with no feathers or comb atop her head - due to an unfortunate mishap when she was just a pullet. She almost died, but with some liquid spray bandage and a couple days in a box in the house, she pulled through. Baldy, however, lays little white eggs).
Anyway, thinking Junior was quite a bit like Missy, I figured I'd give her until early October before thinking we'd lost her. This morning, while working out in the yard I heard a chicken murmuring over by the lilacs, looking for a bite to eat. It was Junior! I gave her some feed, and then sat back to watch for a bit. She was hungry and thirsty - gobbling down the food, getting some water, back to the food, back to the water.
Finally sated, she did a bit of preening and feather-ruffling, occasionally turning a beady little chicken eye in my direction. But after dealing with Missy and the guineas, I'm an experienced poultry stalker. I pretended to be very interested in something off to my right, meanwhile keeping an eye on her in my peripheral vision. She eventually headed around the corner of the house to my left, and I followed. She stopped, so I kept walking towards the garage. I snuck back in time to catch her going through the cat's hole under the fence, but once through it she was nowhere in sight.
That meant she had to be close, so I started checking under the Oregon Grape, right outside the gate, in front of the little shed. There she was, and she let me know she wasn't very happy at being found.
And just like her mother, here's why. I don't know if Coach, our bantam rooster, ever managed to catch Junior, but if he did and she's anything like Missy she'll be a really good mother. So, for now, I'll let her stay out there until the first of October (or the weather turns really nasty), and get the brood pen ready, just in case.