After Monday’s mild weather, winter returned to boot me firmly in the potting bench Tuesday. Snow overnight was following by free-falling temperatures and a wind that would blow the hair right out of your follicles. BRRRR!
Nonetheless, the hens were out and about, scratching in the hendome alternately with visits to the Coop for food and water. When Dan went to close the Coop later in the day, though, he only counted 5 hens in the Coop. His heart sank, and he raced to the house to get me to help look for them in the growing dark. I shoved on my boots and ran out, heart in my throat. I was so afraid we’d lost them to a fox, or they’d gotten out and were roosting somewhere in the woods and would freeze to death overnight. (Predicted overnight temps were as low as -16°F with the wind chill.)
It was COLD, brutally cold, winds howling. We saw hen tracks in the snow along the garden fence, then another set leading into the garden (we removed the gate for the winter) but the tracks did not lead out. There were no signs of a struggle, no feathers, or worse yet, blood. Then, Dan realized the tracks disappeared right by Henbogle Coop. He looked under, and there they were, Lily and Lucy, huddled together under the Coop. We shooed them out (they were not happy to be shooed) and after checking for frostbite, got them into Henbogle Coop to join their sisters and warm up. We left the lamp on for extra warmth, closed them up, and thanked our lucky stars.
We determined they must have flown out of the pen looking for more of that delicious grass from Monday, then didn’t have enough sense to fly back in. We were lucky they found the Coop to provide shelter. We checked them over this morning, and thankfully, saw no signs of frostbite. Lucy and Lily both got their wings clipped to prevent any future flights of fancy.
Now, we just have to make a plan for taking care of the girls during a big three-day storm, if it materializes (please no!), with forecasts calling for between 24-48 inches of snow between Friday night and Monday.