We've lost two of our hens. They have disappeared. We now only have one - poor Jenny, the old, daft Maran. I came out around lunchtime to give them their scraps and wheat berries, and only saw Jenny - walked round to the hen hut and saw a mass of white feathers on the ground, and straw pushed out of the hut. I bottled it, and rushed in to report to the Head Gardener, who duly went down to view the grisly scene. But there were no hens to be found - a few drops of blood on some of the white feathers, and one or two brown feathers lying around, but no Fiona or surviving Broon Twin. No sign of any bodies or trail of feathers.
What we think has happened is this. (Stay with me at the back please.) There is a mad wee terrier who lives round the corner called Sash (this is Central Scotland, mind). He normally never gets out, but when he does he goes crazy and thinks he can take on all the traffic that thunders past our road - he normally does too, as huge articulated lorries have been slowed down to a crawl whilst this tiny beige scrap barks at them in the middle of the road. Anyway, a couple of times Sash has gained entry to our garden and had a go at Fiona. She is white, and she is slow, so normally she is the fall guy, while the rest run for cover. He has had her down and feathers have gone flying, before she escapes his jaws and hot foots it out of there. The first time it happened, we were away in the camper, and No 2 daughter who was at home telephoned to say one of the hens had been killed. Again. no body, just loads of feathers. About a month later, a man knocked at the door asking if I had lost a hen. It was herself, and she had been living in his garden all that time, being fed by his granddaughter. Now this was a fair distance away and across a road (Ha! Now we know!), so he was unaware of our hen keeping activities, until his granddaughter's friend's mum had mentioned us. Well, she settled back in and then last year, around Samhain, we were relaxing, enjoying the extra end of Summertime hour, and the Head Gardener went to make a cup of tea. He came rushing back in to the bedroom, pulling on joggers and fleece, shouting - there's a dog dressed as Superman teaing lumps our of the white hen! Well - what can you say? Sure enough there was a dog wearing a blue cape being chased out of the garden by a man in a navy fleece, grey joggers and a pair of brown deck shoes. Really - the sights you see when you don't have your gun! Anyway, this episode solved the mystery of Fiona's summer holiday (she was OK, just a bit spooked - the dog had attended his owner's fancy dress party the night before - they were still hungover, and obviously Sash had drunk all the leftovers) Another time he got in - same thing - went straight for the fat white one - she escaped again to another neighbour's garden, and a merry hour was spent trying to catch her. Anyway - to finally get to the point - what we think has happened is that Sash has got in again - had a go at Fiona who has scarpered - tried to get into the hen hut where surviving Broon Twin was in the nest box dragged her out and she too has escaped.
Jenny, the daft old maran, who may not be so daft after all, is now living a solitary life in the greenhouse. The hen hut obviously has painful memories for her. She reminds me of the Will Smith character in I am Legend. How weird it must be for her - her whole community wiped out in an instant. No stone has been left unturned in the search for the missing . The neighbours are all on alert for signs of hens squatting in their gazebos etc, but i fear the worst for them in this weather. It is very sad.