This morning, as every work day morning, I staggered (I am not a morning person) outside to let the chickens out of their run before going to work. We have just started daylight savings in New Zealand so the sun is just starting to rise as I am leaving for work. The three chickens are awake but still sleepy and are sitting on their perch in the run, preening themselves while they wait for me to let them out.
This morning I gave them their usual scraps scattered on the lawn as I turn to leave them to free range for the day. This morning, as every work day morning, they slowly hopped down from their perch, wandered out of the run and started to peck at the scraps. This morning was one of those mornings they didn’t particularly like the scraps on offer so they turned their little beaks up and wandered off.
By this time I had gone back inside to change into my work shoes, grab my bag and move reluctantly towards the car. As I went into my room to get my shoes, I happened to see Hannah Hen wandering and pecking, in an area that I hadn’t seen them in before. This area is very open lawn with no cover from the local hawk. This bothered me a bit but they are free range chickens and I guess it was only a matter of time before they discovered this area of our property and they need to learn to take care of themselves. I looked to see if the other two hens were following. Sure enough, Hilda Hen came trotting around the corner following Hannah Hen.
Haitch had been waiting in the car long enough so I turned away to leave them to their foraging. As I was walking towards the car, I heard one of the hens calling loudly. I had heard this distress call once before so I knew one of them was in trouble.
I ran back outside and there was Helen Hen perfectly ok but alone. Her sister Hilda Hen and Hannah Hen had gone around the corner into the unknown and left her behind. She was very distressed and calling and calling to them but they were both ignoring her.
So I went back inside, got the treat tin and one shake of this purple tin full of their favourite seeds and grain got everyone’s attention. They all came running to me. I scattered a handful of seeds and they started to happily peck and scratch together.
I was very cross with Hilda Hen for leaving her sister alone and ignoring her distress calls. I thought chicken sisters would watch out for each other!