Cats, one mouse, a fox and two hens – it all ends well… oh, not for the mouse.

(Our favourite position on the sofa)

I was sitting on the sofa this morning writing when I heard one of the cats meowing. It was a plaintive meow. As both the garden door and the secret cat window were open I ignored him, but he increased the volume and the other two cats who had been asleep beside me on the sofa shot out through the door. As this is a little odd I put down my laptop and followed. There standing on the threshold was the third cat with a mouthful of mouse. I have no idea how he managed to meow with his mouth full but fair dues to him. I had been warned that there might be a few gifts brought into the house so I reacted fast and shut the door (and closed the secret window too.) I like my gifts covered in chocolate or made from inanimate materials.

(Isn’t she beautiful?)

When the coast was clear (of cats and mice) I went outside to consider the weather. I like to walk when it’s dry but I’ll also give it a go in a slight drizzle. There was no rain and it was a little warmer outside than in so, decision made. But first…. I checked on the hens. We are developing quite a close relationship, me and the hens, it’s mainly one-sided but I have patience and hope to win them over before I leave. The only reason I was checking was that I saw what I thought was a fox yesterday afternoon in the garden. Don’t foxes only come out at dusk? He ran off through the fence and I found the hens happily pecking in another part of the garden. After that I went out to check them more often and even locked them in early last night… just in case.

(A little treasure)

Then when I got up this morning I considered leaving them in their pen but because I had locked them up early and I could see them waiting, looking in the direction of the house anticipating their freedom – I chickened out…. and opened the pen. It seemed cruel to keep them in when I wasn’t completely sure there was danger. So there I was checking them again… but I couldn’t find them. I searched every bit of the garden, no hens. Panic started to set in and I searched again for signs of a crime scene (feathers and fluids). Fortunately, nothing. Before yesterday I had no fear for the hens and never stopped to notice where they went during the day. I tried to remember where I used to see them but it was always in different places coming into view just as I rounded a corner. Not today.

(I didn’t get a picture of the fox but this is a deer I saw later… that orange colour, that’s the deer)

How was I going to tell their humans? How was I going to cope with the emotional fallout – mine, I mean. Then I remembered my goto person with hen experience and I called Denis. He was very reassuring, mentioned hiding places in the garden and fence-hoping for possible juicy worms outside the property. He suggested garden search first followed by road to neighbour’s house search, followed by boundary search while wearing wellingtons, rain coat and employing a special hen call – CHuck, chuck, chuck, chuck. So, I got dressed up and had hardly reached the greenhouse when I met the girls rounding a corner. Oh the joy! I cheered and ran towards them hoping for a hug… they stopped in mid step, one leg raised…  I stopped. They stared…. with a look I interpreted as Wait right there, we’re only here because you called, what have you got for us?

(Safe)

So I ran back to the kitchen and gathered what I thought would be treats for hens and laid them out in the grass in front of the girls. Not sure if my obvious loving demonstrations are causing stress in our relationship or possibly they don’t like sunflower seeds, carrots and porridge because they didn’t eat my offering, they just kept staring at me.

I am so happy but I think I’ll keep them locked up, Mairead.

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