Once the season at the farm got into full swing my days got long and full and I have not written in over a month. By now the chicks are no longer chicks at all...young adults I would say. We are still probably more than a month from any egg laying but there are feathers all over the coop and chicken yard as the girls lose their chick feathers and start to put on an adult coat.
The first time there were feathers in the yard it was a near disaster. A hawk attacked my girls, specifically one of the black and white Dominiques. It was a tuesday and I left the farm around 6 to go home and feed the dogs and get ready for my tennis game from 7:30-9pm. I planned to come back to the farm after the game and close the coop. It was late but I figured the girls would be ok for a short while. I had done this at home in the driveway and no one had come to harm. HOWEVER, by 6:45 I had a call from Dan the Farmer that Dan the Security Guard had called saying he had come upon the hawk attacking one of the chicks. The hawk had been scared off but many of the chicks had flown either over or through the fence in a panic and were now hiding in the surrounding woods. He would wait till someone arrived.
I drove to the farm in my tennis shorts and sneakers, expecting the worst. I called my tennis friends and alerted them that I was having a chicken emergency and would be late. I approached the coop with my heart pounding. There were a lot of Dominique feathers but no blood or sign of a wounded chicken. I started crawling through the nearby brambles searching for the missing girls...about a dozen or more of them had fled.
They were hiding in what they presumed, and correctly, were the thickest brambles and hardest to reach places. As the thorns and branches tore at my naked legs I tried to coax, flush, and grab chicks as the sky grew increasingly dark. As I chased the birds toward the coop Dan, the security guard was surprisingly good at scooping them up and depositing them in the yard. Farmer Dan, with his 2 year old Ada in his arms, was also doing a heroic job of reaching under logs and grabbing chicks. When the roundup ended it was pretty dark but amazingly all the Dominiques, five, were accounted for. Except for some missing tail feathers no one seemed to be hurt. I counted and recounted the birds until I was convinced that all were there except one of the dark brown Partridge Rocks. I didn't want to leave but it was too dark to hunt in the woods. We stood there for about 5 minutes, not wanting to call it quits when I finally said OK, lets go , there is nothing more we can do, when the last little chick came walking out of the woods on her own. We grabbed her, put her in the coop, and locked up for the night. Amazingly all birds were accounted for...and I quickly ran off to the tennis courts to make my apologies to the tennis crew. They were all very understanding, having seen the chicks growing up each week, and were patient with my poor tennis strokes for the few remaining minutes of the evening's game.