October 7, 2014 – All is quiet on the feline front but we had a scare of a different kind tonight. When Mom went to tuck in the bantam pullets she only counted seven out of eight heads. Becoming quite troubled over the matter, she started a frantic search. Thankfully, as luck would have it, I was nearby when news of the missing hen hit the airwaves. Actually, I was standing right next to Mom when she discovered that the young White Crested Black Polish had disappeared. Her twin sister, Mavis, had settled in comfortably on the bottom roost, but poor Madea was nowhere to be found. That’s when I blew the whistle. I was wearing one around my neck from the spirited game of, “I’ve got the worm,” I had just refereed. It’s a fall classic among chickens.
Two blows brought the entire adult flock to the bantam’s henhouse.
“We’ve got trouble,” I explained. “Serious trouble. Madea is missing.”
A gasp filtered through the crowd.
“Do we know if she was kidnapped or did she simply wander away?” asked Bo.
“From what Mom is saying, she definitely didn’t wander away. The run is new and secure. There is no way she could have escaped on her own.”
“Do you think someone let her out by mistake?” Addie wondered.
“Not that we know,” I replied. “But we can’t rule anything out. We need to seal off the perimeter and canvas the property.”
“But Hap,” Hattie reasoned, “it’s almost nightfall. We’re supposed to be inside ourselves. What if something is lurking beyond the trees?”
“She’s a mere child, Hattie,” Sawyer answered sternly. “No one gets left behind. We’ll just have to be smart, stick together, and work quickly to bring her home.”
“Alright, everyone,” Bo commanded. “Sawyer is right, no one sleeps tonight until that fluffy-headed youngster is back safe and sound with the others. Split up as you would for an emergency drill. Cackle loudly if you spot something unusual. We’ll consider all clues.”
“Work quickly,” I urged. “Mom is really worried. I can’t imagine how Madea feels.”
“The only good thing is that she can’t see out from under that head of feathers,” Wilma reasoned. “She could walk off the edge of a cliff and not realize it until she grew her angel wings.”
“Really, Wilma?” I turned and glared at the auburn curmudgeon.
“Just keeping it real,” she sighed before joining Emaline in a search behind the shed.
Sawyer and I watched Mom frantically check and recheck the coop and run. Then she checked the grove and looked behind Yoga Rock. The two of us started looking in places that we would have found interesting at Madea’s age; the mailbox, the neighbors trash bucket, the duck house…
“You don’t think someone actually took her, do you?” Sawyer asked quietly.
“I don’t,” I answered truthfully. “This is a small neighborhood with good people. We don’t get a lot of traffic. Mom has been here all day working in her office. The cars are in the driveway. Who would be so bold?”
For an instant I thought about my row with the cat yesterday. Even she wouldn’t be this cruel, I said to myself.
Disappointed that we hadn’t found the missing Madea, we headed back to the bantam’s coop to see if anyone else had news. We spotted Peaches at the meeting point.
“Any updates?” I asked our friend.
“No,” she replied, “but I have a good feeling about this. My gut is telling me that she’s okay. Violet just left to recheck the garage one more time, and I said I’d stay here until Mom got back.”
“Has anyone asked the other pullets what they might have seen?” I asked.
“That’s a great idea!” Sawyer exclaimed.
Peaches opened the coop door and peered inside. The sun had now completely set leaving the only light inside the henhouse a purplish hue.
“Hi girls,” she began sweetly. “I don’t mean to worry any of you, but we are wondering if you know where Madea might be.”
Seven sets of shy eyes turned in our direction.
“We’re not supposed to talk with strangers,” Tenley leaned over and whispered to Henrietta.
“I think she lives here,” Henrietta replied.
“I’m your sister,” Peaches laughed softly. “I live in Coop #1 with the other Orpingtons. We’re helping Mom locate Madea. She came up missing in the headcount. We’re starting to get very worried.”
“She’s in the roof,” said Pippa.
“She’s up there,” Pippa directed with her wing. “She told us she was going out for beer.”
“Yah,” laughed her twin sister Mavis. “Madea has a wicked sense of humor. I told her to grab a pack of cigarettes while she’s out.” Then Mavis laughed so hard she nearly lost her balance. Henrietta had to pull her back before she fell to the floor.
Peaches, Sawyer and I turned to one another in astonishment.
“Bantam humor,” I shrugged.
We pushed our heads back through the henhouse door.
“I need a light,” Peaches said to me.
I turned on my headlamp and pointed my noggin in the direction of the rafters. Sure enough, Madea had nestled herself into the eves of the coop. She wasn’t stuck or hurt, simply satisfied to have a bit of space to herself.
Madea didn’t say a word in her defense because, quite honestly, with the feather hat she wears, I don’t think she knew we were there.
“I think she’s asleep,” I whispered.
Rhythmic snores filled the arched roof a second later, confirming our suspicions.
“Go fetch MOM!” Sawyer turned and hollered into my ear.
“FETCH, Mom?” I laughed. “Since when did I turn into Lassie?”
“I’m just excited,” she chuckled. “It’s nice when things work out the way we hope they will,” she said giving my wing a squeeze.
Mom cried tears of joy when she realized Madea was safe and sound. I stepped into the center of the yard and blew two short blows on my whistle to indicate the end of our search.
After Mom closed up the bantams, she escorted us back to our own coops, making sure we got there without incident. She thanked us profusely and promised to get us those pumpkins I asked for. We reminded her that we would have helped out even if there wasn’t a reward. We’re family. That’s what family does.