Our hens began laying in mid-late February, and are now fully laying, I think. We were away most of last week, so I’ll spend the next few days starting to track when they lay, and get a pattern down on paper to understand it all.

One bad thing happened, on Saturday morning I looked out the window of the kitchen and saw one of my beautiful big Black Australorps loose, just pecking at the ground gracefully. I ran out and picked her up and got her back in the pen. I couldn’t see any reason for her escape, and the only thing I can figure is that the night before when my hubby went out upon our return, it was nearly dark, and somehow he might have let her out without knowing, as he collected the eggs.

No harm in that though, the Australorps are very gentle and calm, and whenever it was that she got out, she hung around.

The bad thing is this though: I went out on Sunday afternoon to look at them all and see if there were any eggs and to talk to them. I got to the A-frame pen and counted and freaked, one of the black hens wasn’t in there, as far as I could tell.

I got my DH and he came out and indeed, there was one missing for certain. We walked all around the yard, but found not one sign of her. It wasn’t one of the big Australorps, it was the other black hen that looks like them, but is smaller, sort of bantam but not exactly.

Later I just happened to be looking out the window and saw the dog hovering over a small black mound in front of the swingset, as if he’d just put it there. I ran out, gathering my DH as I went, and sure enough, it was the missing little black hen, very dead.

It isn’t clear how that happened, was she missing already when I got the Australorp back into the pen on Saturday? I don’t know if I counted, or not. I must have “felt that they were all there” to some degree. I have no actual memory of “making sure” though.

So when we discovered she was missing, was she dead already, or alive, hidden or hiding? The one place we didn’t look was under the small tractor that’s sitting in the yard. The only other possible hiding place was under the crawl space, which was accessible due to the “screen” falling off the foundation wall, a small thing that covers the masonry brick thing which is open to air out the crawl space, covered with the screen to keep critters out. Since it falls off all the time, and was off already, maybe a scared little hen went in there to hide, then came out later when the dog was out in the yard and he got her? Or maybe he got her earlier and somehow hid her from us? At the time we looked for her the dog was inside still, from the night before. We let him out later after we looked all around the yard without finding even one sign of her.

Oh well, it was sad. I felt so horrible when we found her.

So we now have 4 hens in the A-Frame and then 3 others in the SuperYard. We lost a bunch of hens all the sudden one after the other, from the bunch that are now in the SuperYard, but were in a different pen before, about a month ago or so. The three that are left are plugging along and laying now. They are Rhode Island Red types (maybe mixed to some extent.)

The A-Frame hens are the 2 Black Australorps and 2 Golden-Laced Wyandottes. These are hennies we’ve had for a long time now. Started with more, but lost them here and there due to different reasons.

So our total hennie population currently is; 7.

That’s a drastic reduction in the number of eggs I expected to get this spring. Oh well. We had about 14 or 15 hens at the start of 2008.

But the ones we have are laying and seemingly doing fine. Spring is beginning and trees are beginning to come “back to life” as well.