Hilda is giving a pretty convincing impression of being sane again. So convincing, that I released her from the slammer today. She has deliberately ignored the nest box, and dust bathed her day away. A less experienced keeper might pat herself on the back and consider that the spell in the broody cage has been a success. But I know hens. I know that they can do a fine job pretending that they're back to their non-mental selves, and then leg it back to their phantom eggs when your back is turned. So for now, I am remaining on guard.
However, with a vacant cage and two more broody hens to contend with, Celia found herself moving out of the nest box. She squawked indignantly as I plonked her in the bare cage, and gave me a look that could curdle milk. Being a hardened sort to chickenny antics, I left her to it in the garage. And gave it no more thought. Turns out, that was a mistake.
This evening, as I languished in the bath, I thought I could hear a muttering chicken. Considering that this was 9pm, I found that odd. Generally, my girls are roosting by then, and definitely non-vocal. Just as I shouted down to the ever tolerant husband to ask if there was a cat in the garden, he came bounding up the stairs. Before I got in to the bath, I'd asked him to lock up the girls for me. And he'd been outside to do just that, when he found Doris wandering around the garden. Considering the fact that it was peeing down, she was rather bedraggled looking.
The hens are shut in to the Palace run by tea time, and the pop hole closed when they roost. So I was very confused. I knew that I'd checked that every hen was present and accounted for when I closed them in, so I had no idea how she'd made her escape. An interrogation of the children revealed no clues. Hmmm.
As I scrabbled about for some clothes, the ever tolerant husband went back out in to the rainy gloom to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. He reported back by yelling up the stairs that all seven pekins were now safely locked in to the Palace, so I needn't worry. Well, that's good, I thought. And then....hang on. Seven? But there should only be six. Because Celia is in the....ah. Until I checked myself, I wouldn't be sure, but I'd bet my collection of 'Practical Poultry' magazines that Doris hadn't developed amazing ninja-like escape abilities. The Palace is about as secure as chicken housing gets. A parakeet cage, however, might be something that a very determined pekin could escape from. And the ever tolerant husband might easily mistake a silver partridge pekin for a blue pekin, especially at dusk. And of course, finding a roaming hen at that time, he had helpfully opened the run door for her.
It was no surprise to me therefore to find Celia back in the Palace's favoured nest box. I stood there in the pouring rain and endured the most malevolent hissing and glaring fit ever unleashed on a mere human. Unimpressed, I hoiked the Houdini chicken from her cosy sleeping quarters and returned her to the sparse slammer. I found the cage on it's side, and the top detached from the base. I can only imagine the amount of force necessary to achieve this, and look at Celia with healthy respect. I also put a heavy tin of paint on top of the cage, and locked the garage door.
If I find her wandering around the garden in the morning, I will employ a clergyman to perform an exorcism.