We named all of the chickens Minerva Louise after the intrepid hen featured in a series of picture books by Janet Morgan Stoeke. In the stories, Minerva Louise, a sweet but clueless chicken, explores the world on her own terms, and always returns home safely by page 32. We thought that it would be a good name, with good omens attached.
All twelve chickens are called by the same name because, honestly, we usually can't tell them apart. Besides, when you shake the grain can and call "Minevera", they all show up. So, it works, right?
Recently, however, a chicken I will now call ML XII had a little adventure.
ML XII is a digger-outer. A few days ago, she dug her way out of the chicken tractor for a little walkabout, and injured her head in the process. She now has an ugly, featherless, scabby bald spot behind her comb.
Knowing the chickens will often peck an injured bird in their flock, and possibly peck it to death (chickens are not a compassionate group), we isolated ML XII in the FEMA tractor, which will henceforth be referred to as "Saint Henrietta's Hospital for Hens".
ML XII didn't like the isolation of St Hens, though. She dug herself out, and went walkabout again. Last night when we arrived home after work, St Hens was empty!
There really isn't much point in searching for a black hen in the woods in the dark (the moon was full and bright last night, but not THAT bright) so we went to bed figuring that she'd either show up for breakfast in the morning, or we'd find a pile of feathers indicating an owl kill.
In the morning, I immediately spotted a clue that ML XII wasn't dead.
Fiddle often has little brown birds roosting on her, but that's usually an afternoon phenomenon. These bird-poop streaks hadn't been there the night before when I fed horses.
I couldn't imagine my big bossy mare acting as overnight roost for a runaway chicken, but clearly they spent some time together. Hmmm.
Then I saw ML XII herself!
I rattled the grain can and called "Minerva!" She ran away at first, eager to preserve her newfound freedom, but the grain can is hard to resist.
I caught her.
Back at St Hens, which has upgraded security now (I put boards around the edges to discourage digging out).
Stay there, you silly bird! I mean it this time!