We were out of town for quite a while over the holidays, and when we returned our house felt pretty out of whack. Mr. Green scene aptly summed it up: Nature had been busy taking over.
The wind had blown off one of the storm windows that top our cold frames in the garden, carried it 20 feet or so, and smashed it on the concrete patio. There was evidence of mice throughout the house (proving that, in normal times, our cat does quite a bit to keep rodents at bay—even though she sleeps about 23 hours a day). And our hot water pipes were frozen.
Most notably, though, we were down a chicken. Our flock of five now numbers four.
Conversation about this has centered on two questions. 1. What happened? 2. To whom?
The answer to the first question will remain shrouded in mystery. All we can do is speculate—maybe the missing bird got snatched by a hawk, or maybe she flew the fence and couldn’t figure out how to get back in to stay warm with her compatriots.
As to the second question, we hope to answer it someday, but it’s surprisingly hard to be sure who’s gone. Our identification of the five birds always relied on having all five of them within view, so we could say “No, that’s the big one, so that must be Vicky; that’s the black one, so that must be Antoine, except that one is actually blacker, so this must be Antoine and that one must be Bonehead” and so on. Now we can’t ever complete the puzzle.
Meanwhile, they keep eating, and they keep not laying. For the moment, then, maybe a smaller flock isn’t such a bad thing.