So we moved the chicken tractor the other day (Saturday) while the chickens were out and about. I debated as to whether this was a good idea or not. I thought perhaps we should move it after the hens and Snowball were in for the night but I took pity on Farmer John who wanted to move it in daylight.
The chickens could have cared less about it during the daytime but come dusk...
When I went out to shut them all up for the night, where were my chickens? Standing in the exact spot that the tractor used to be in. Talk about creatures of habit. It was like they thought the chicken tractor would just appear over them.
So myself, Farmer John and two of our children had the ever so fun task of getting them to the chicken tractor. We tried bribery with cracked corn, we tried herding and finally we had to result to catching them by surrounding them with chicken wire and then picking them up one by one and moving them to their new home. Can we say, "Roosters are feisty!"
Well, it took forever but finally all twelve were in for the night.
Sunday night, I went out with my daughter and Farmer John to shut up the chickens again. It went fairly better. Two hens were already inside and we managed to herd six more in with little difficulty. That left four chickens... three hens and Snowball.
Andi and I managed to herd Snowball over but he would not go inside. He flew to the top of the tractor and perched. Then he jumped down and ran all over with us trying to cut him off. Then we got him back over to the tractor where he proceeded to do it all over. Finally we got him to go in... cracked corn was just too much temptation.
While all that was happening Farmer John was herding the other three hens. When we finally thought we got them all in we did a "Chicken butt check". We open the back side of the tractor and count. Hmmm... eleven. We must have miscounted. Nope after counting multiple times, pushing and prodding chickens so we could make sure one wasn't hidden, and me climbing into the tractor to count from the front (I sight to see.) We still only came up with eleven. Oh yeah! We left one out and it was getting dark fast.
Enter my Divergent Hen!
We searched high. We searched low. In the barn, under everything, in every tree, in every bush. Around and around the house we went. It got dark. We used flashlights. All to no avail. We finally had to call it quits and hope that where ever this hen had got herself to, she was safe.
Next morning I awoke to Snowball's usual crowing. But then I heard a most joyous sound. Clucking! I never hear clucking. My hen must have come out of hiding and is alive and well.
I got up and got dressed and went out. She wasn't at the old chicken tractor spot. She was however at the back of the house. All safe and sound. I approached her with some cracked corn but she wasn't too sure about me. She didn't come up to me like the hens usually do. I figured she was still upset over the fiasco herding efforts of the past two nights so I tossed some corn her way and left to let the other chickens out.
She was so happy when the other chickens came out . She joined right in when they came over by her. But she didn't join them at the tractor.
Now comes last night. Seven hens in the tractor come dusk and two hens and snowball on the roof of the tractor. The two hens went in right away. Snowball took a couple minutes of herding but then he went in. Two hens left to go. We walked over to were they like to hang. No chickens. Sigh. We walked around the house. No chickens. Great! Now my Divergent Hen has a friend. Finally we heard a cluck and hastened toward it. One chicken, sigh, not two. We managed to herd her to a fence and catch her. She got carried to the tractor. But still no other chicken in sight. We searched high. We searched low. Under everything, in every tree, in every bush. Around and around the house we went. We did several chicken butt counts. Only eleven and night was falling. Curse this blasted hen.
Farmer John had the gall to ask us... "Is it the same hen?" They all look the same dear! But I would bet it is the same one.
I don't know where this chicken goes but she sure hides herself well. I hope I hear her cluck this morning and see her out. I don't want her to end up as anything else's food. Only me and my family have dibs on eating her when her egg laying time ends.
What the heck do I do about this Divergent Hen? The nights are going to get colder and she will need to be with her flock. And then when it gets really colder they will need to move into the barn for the winter. That will be another story because then they'll need to share with my red hens.
Featherside Story: How two flocks became one. Featuring the Red gang and the Rocks gang. Instead of clicking their fingers they cluck. I prefer an alternate ending to the Westside Story ending because I don't want any dead chickens.
Any one have any suggestions as to how to help little miss Divergent go back to the chicken tractor?
Update: When I went out this morning. I found that Divergent had lain an egg by the back porch. It was nice of her to lay it where I would see it. And I found her perched on top of the chicken tractor where she quickly joined the flock when I let them out. She even entered the chicken yard and ate cracked corn with the others and then went into the tractor to eat and drink. I think she was cold and lonely. Maybe tonight she won't be Divergent any longer. We can hope.