This morning, it was the tulips and hyacinths turn to get buried in snow. Here at the house we got about three inches overnight, just up the hill it was more like eight.
When I went out to shovel off the deck, I found Dot, our old Golden Laced Wyandotte hen, dead under the steps, sopping wet and covered with snow. She was at least 10 years old, and had been a bit gimpy for the last year or so. But she managed to hippy-hop around ok, her wings were in fine shape, and she had no problems getting up onto the roost at night. I've been letting the flock out or the pen around sunset, for a little runabout - it's a short enough time that they don't get into too much mischief. We'd gone to a lecture at the State Museum (about Nevada rock art - petroglyphs and pictographs) last night, but were back home just as it started to get dark. I'd have seen her if she was still out in the yard, or having trouble getting back, when I went down to shut up the coop for the night.
So I'm thinking she knew it was her time, and hid like animals sometimes do. Maybe she just preferred freezing to death over dying in the coop. I've heard freezing is not a bad way to go - you just get sleepy and don't wake up.
She had a little quirk that gave me quite a start numerous times over the years. She'd sunbathe. Sprawl over on her side, her legs stretched out one way, her neck the other. I'd think she was dead. More than once, the neighbor kids would call to me across the fence, saying I had a dead chicken lying out there in the dirt. So I'd head over to check, and her head would pop up. So then, I'd think maybe something had happened, she couldn't get up; in later years, that maybe her gimpy leg had given out on her. But then I'd get a bit closer, and she'd give me that beady-eyed chicken look, like "Oh, must you?", jump right up, fluffle out the dust, and wander off. It's always sad to lose one of our chickens. They all have such different personalities, and Dot really was quite a character.