I’ve been waiting two years. I’ve known that one day it would eventually happen late in the evening when we had settled in for the night. It would wake me from a deep sleep. I would immediately run to the coop with my heart racing and my throat tight. Finally, it happened last night.
At about 9:30pm, I heard the unmistakable chicken alarm. It was loud. It was so loud that I heard it while the TV was on, through the house walls and a closed up coop. I panicked. I was snuggled on the couch under a blanket in my pjs. I jumped up, ran into the garage, opened the door and threw on the flood lights. I grabbed a flashlight and my coat off the hook. The alarm was still sounding. I ran to the coop.
Racing through my mind were visions of raccoons, skunks, fisher cats and coyotes. I shook my head to try and empty it. A vision of one of the girls clenched between a predator’s teeth was burning into my mind. When I arrived, nothing was there. The coop was locked and secure. Nothing was out of place. Thank Goodness. As I reinspected the locks, I noticed that there were pine needles scattered on the nesting boxes from the wreath hanging above. Something surely was perched upon the nesting boxes, peering in through the window and planning their entry attempt.
Finally, I returned inside. There was nothing else I could do. I left the flood light on and said a quick prayer for the girls. It was quiet the rest of the evening. This morning I went out early to greet the girls. I arrived with scratch in my hand and fresh water. The girls were giddy. I opened up the coop door and one by one like popcorn they popped out of the coop. All eight were safe and sound. Tilly came over first to say good morning. She is our most talkative hen. While we chatted, I could not help notice that her neck feathers were returning. Guided by the brilliant light of a Cape Cod full moon, Dottie Speckles had methodically been removing Tilly’s neck feathers while they were sleeping at night.
Tilly had finally wised up. This week, I have checked on them in the coop at night. Dottie Speckles still wanted to sleep near Tilly. However, Tilly no longer decided to face in the same direction. All the chickens were facing toward north except for Tilly. She was facing south. She was protecting herself from Dottie Speckles. Well, as Tilly and I were talking this morning, I noticed. Tilly’s tail and back feathers were missing and sparse. Dottie Speckles is picking at Tilly’s tail and back. Dottie Speckles only picks on Tilly. We have tried numerous solutions with Dottie Speckles. No one else is missing feathers. No one else is showing this behavior. Everyone else seems to get along.
As Tilly and I were talking. Dottie Speckles came over. After she said her hello to me, she pecked Tilly on the back and pulled out a feather.
To be continued…