Several days ago I got home from running an errand and was greeted by five of my six hens, but no rooster. Its fairly normal for the group to be missing a hen or two who have gone back to the coop to lay an egg, but the rooster is never absent. Furthermore, I didnt hear him crowing. Hes always crowing.
I walked past the barn, through the gardens and up to my moms chicken coop. Perhaps he was visiting her girls, though I was fairly certain her rooster would never allow it. Sure enough, he wasnt there. I looked over the pastures for mounds of feathers in case he had wandered too far and been picked off by a coyote " highly unusual in the middle of the day, but its winter and critters are getting hungry. No feathers anywhere.
On walking back past the barn I noticed one of the last batch of baby chickens (hardly babies anymore) had gotten past the barn door and into the barn. I chased him out, shut the door tighter, and continued looking around the yard for the rooster. After a few minutes it occurred to me that if a baby chick had squeezed past the barn door, perhaps the rooster had too. He loves the acoustics of the barn and is forever leading the hens inside so that he can crow for them in the cavernous interior.
I didnt see him, but I heard a slight clucking noise. Listening more carefully, I followed the noise to the big, steel door of the hay lock-up (yes, we have to lock up our hay " apparently its a precious commodity in Texas). Wrestling the door open, I found the missing hen and rooster. Apparently they had gotten a room in the hay lock-up. Chickens that they are, on being found out they scurried out the other side of the lock-up under the skirting of the barn. Relieved that my rooster wasnt coyote food, I didnt think twice about it until today.
I had been complaining to my mom that I havent gotten any eggs from the chickens in over a week. I even contemplated butchering the stew hens earlier than I had anticipated. After all, theres no sense in feeding chickens that wont produce eggs. But I had really hoped to get enough spring eggs to hatch a few more batches of baby chickens before butchering. Brilliantly, she began looking all around the barn to see if the hens had abandoned the coop for a new laying spot. Sure enough, she found it " right inside the steel door of the hay lock-up. I had eight eggs this week. Not stellar, but enough that Ill hold off on butchering for a while. Goofy chickens! I've locked them up in the coop for a while hoping they'll get used to laying in the nesting boxes again. They have no idea how close they came to being dinner !!!