Bad Banty

Nancy : Dear Gina and Readers, I could tell many stories of my hens’ ability to communicate with their keeper (me) but I’d like to share one dramatic one which happened just a few minutes ago.

My ranchette consists of a chicken yard, 3 coops, about 50 hens, an occasional coyote visitor, and a mixed dog named Cookie who barks from her boudoir in the garage when we get these unwelcome guests. As long as the girls are in their coops, they are pretty secure. However, they are at their most vulnerable when they spend the night perched on a roof or a branch and then, at daylight, let themselves down to forage. Every night I do my best to put everyone in but sometimes one or two evade me.

Well, this morning at 5:30 (prime coyote time) Cookie barked so I went to investigate. I let her out of the garage and allowed her to do her search while I did mine. If a coyote had been here, it was already gone, no damage done. Planning to go back to bed, I left the back door to the garage open so Cookie could patrol, thought smugly, “All is well,” and headed into the house.

Not so fast! My attempt to return to bed was arrested by an uncharacteristically loud chorus coming from the yard. Yet this time it was only the chickens making the racket, not the dog. “What is going on?” I mused. “These girls will wake the sheriff!” Out I went again, this time to quiet the birds, and who should I see but Racing Stripes, my barred bantam cochin, sitting atop the roof of her coop, looking sheepish. “Bad banty!” I scolded. “Don’t you know that you could have become someone’s tasty morsel?” Then I scooped up the fluffy, football-shaped fowl, passed her gently into her coop, and the ruckus instantly ceased. “Good hens!” I purred, grateful to them for alerting me to Racing Stripe’s perilous position. By this time it was too late to go back to bed so I wrote down this story to share with you. Nancy, Claremont, CA


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