I currently have 9 laying hens in my flock. They are happy ladies, as far as I can tell, and they spend their days pecking around their fenced-in area and squawking loudly in their nest boxes. Every evening I count them as I refill the feeders, collect the eggs and give them fresh water. There are always 9.
But the other night, I counted 8. I checked all around the coop, in the pen and around the yard but there was no sign of her. I was dreading the sight of a large mess of brown and white feathers and I was glad I did not see one. I hoped that she had flown out of the pen, which does not have a top at the moment, gotten a little lost and had found a place to roost for the night. I closed up the coop hoping that I would see her scratching and pecking in the yard the next morning.
But that was not the case and I was sad in that I had lost a hen to some predator or that she had gotten out and gotten lost. I kept an eye on the ladies all that day - watching for any signs of a returning predator or that the ladies had all decided the 'fly the coop.' There was no odd behavior and as evening rolled around I got some kitchen scraps together and went out to do the evening chores.
I counted the ladies - 8 - and completed the chicken chores. As I was just about the leave the coop I heard a faint clucking sound. I had just given the ladies the kitchen scraps and they were arguing over the best carrot peels but I was sure that this 'cluck' came from the other direction. I waited and I heard it again, and again.
I went to a small, narrow space behind the indoor coop area where I usually store extra bales of straw. It is empty now in that I need to re-stock and I had stored the small blue kiddie pool that I use for their dust bath in the summer back there. I noticed that the pool was laying flat, tipped over, instead of leaning up against the shed wall.
I heard the chucking again and I slowly lifted up the kiddie pool. There she was - all hunched down and looking very angry. She started squawking at me in a very indignant way and I admit that I did laugh at her a little. She must have flown up on the dividing fencing and jumped down to the other side, jostled the pool, and got stuck under it when it fell. I was very happy to see her and I took her right to the feeder so she could get a good drink and a meal.