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Tuesday, February 20, 2007 and Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Missing Leghorn Hen
Tuesday morning I had three leghorn hens, out in a new henyard that will be our corn bed later this year. They happily fell to eating the bread I gave them and I didn't think much more about them.

These hens are the survivors from a dog attack last fall, where a neighbor's dog jumped the fence and killed three old silkie hens and two leghorns, leaving a third wounded. When she recovered and the neighbor reinforced his fences I thought the problem was over. These hens are still laying well, and we have been averaging an egg a day from these girls. Tonight my sister went to collect their eggs and came back to report one hen was missing. There is a new hole torn in the poultry netting that covers their yard. I suspect a coyote or the neighbor's dog again but there is no other sign of entry. We shut them up in a canine-proof henhouse tonight and tomorrow we will have to figure out how to protect them. Our sheepdogs are pretty fierce at defending the property but they were in for part of our day today.

I need to order more birds, but I'm reluctant to add more hens to the flock until we figure out how to secure our yard better. Our original coyote-proof yard (there's several shots of it in the DVD) was mostlydestroyed by a huge branch that fell on it a few months ago. Inspired by the chicken tractor I built for the DVD release, I moved the hens to a new site so they would fertlize and turn the bed before we put corn in it in April. I'm always sad when I lose a bird.

Wednesday evening -- the story continues

When I went out to feed the leghorn hens this morning all three girls were in their henyard. There was a huge rush of relief that they were all alive but I'm confounded where the hen was hiding. The tiny henhouse is too small -- or seems too small -- for any hen to disappear into it. Well, I'm glad they are all fine.

Today I got my first order from Iraq. A Sargeant from North Carolina wants to have chickens when he gets out. Just sending the DVD seemed like too little but I was reluctant to include a bumper sticker for fear it would get the soldier who ordered it in trouble. My thoughts are with that young man tonight, in my small way I was moved. It's so easy to forget the thousands of military men and women who are so far away. The soldier's email from Iraq suddenly madethe world seems very small. I pray that he is safe each day until he returns home to build the chicken coop he described in his email.