Count Your Hens

Yesterday I spent some time in the vegetable garden, raking leaves and taking stock of what needs to be done next. The goats helped.


I let the Girls out, too. They were more helpful than the goats.

They helped get rid of overwintering bugs in the pumpkin patch.

pumpkin patch


They tidied up the butterfly garden.



They fertilized the lawn (which obviously needs as much help as it can get – I’ll be reseeding soon!)



They looked under the leaf cover near the roses for grubs.



When it’s time to put them back into the safety of the coop, all I have to do is shake a canister of cracked corn and holler Girls! and they all come running home. (Watch this video.)

Still, I always count the hens to make sure that there’s not a wayward hen too distracted by the great outdoors to come back to the coop. Yesterday, I called them home and counted thirteen in the run. I have fourteen hens. Beulah was missing. I looked in all of the usual spots. Under the wood pile (a favorite dust-bathing site.) Not there. In the deep leaves of the raspberry patch. Nope. Behind the asparagus bed. Not there. I called. I shook the can of scratch grains. No hen.

I looked in the barn. I didn’t see or hear anyone. But I had a thought. Do you see that gap between the hay bales and the wall?


Beulah was there. She must have thought it’d be a fine place to lay an egg, but then discovered that she was stuck. She couldn’t turn around and she couldn’t back out. I reached in and extracted her. Beulah was quite relieved to rejoin her flock. So, the lesson of this story is to always count your hens!


  1. Never count your chickens before they hatch, but after it is definitely the thing to do!

  2. You are a mighty` fine hunter.` I don`t think I would have even imagined a hen could fit in such a small space. I hope she got some treats afterwards…it must have been torment for her to hear the tin and your calls and not be able to join the fray. :)

  3. It’s always amazing (and interesting) to find the places animals can squish themselves into.

  4. I always count our girls, even when they are safely inside the pen. However, we had been letting them forage for weeks, keeping an eye on them. We lost FOUR of our girls and there wasn’t a sound. One minute they were there, the next gone. Not even a feather :-( I hadn’t seen or heard a thing, the dogs hadn’t barked, just nothing. When I counted them as they came “home”..four weren’t there. I searched everywhere, in all their favorite spots. They were gone.
    I have no idea where they went or what got them, whatever it was took four and didn’t leave a trace of evidence. We do have a neighborhood dog that sometimes escapes and comes up to visit, but she was safely in her yard.
    I feel so sad that I wasn’t able to watch over them closely enough. Now the girls can’t go out unless someone is sitting with them. They would rather be out than in, but obviously they can disappear without a sound or a trace if you don’t have your eyes on them constantly.
    Sigh…feeling sad!

  5. This happened to Pokey…she was trapped for nearly three weeks, and needed lots of rehabilitation to regain her strength.

  6. Boy, she really would have been in a pickle, huh. I always get a kick out of seeing the goaties out and about. The thing I remember most about the dwarf goats I had access to many years ago was their incredible nosiness. Had to jam their faces into everything I was doing. It was infuriating and incredibly endearing.

  7. Yes! I lost a Barred Rock this way a few years ago. She scooted into a roll of chicken wire in the garden shed. Looked and looked and looked for her and found a pile of feathers and an egg a few months later. Lesson learned the hard way.

  8. My Girls are always counted, better safe than sorry, One off my RIReds called Trouble is a complete Houdini and gets into everything she shouldn’t, hence the name. Quite often one of my neighbours will bring her back having found her sometimes even in their Kitchens if the door is open. She likes being carried and they are happy with a few eggs. We are lucky that we live up a long drive with just 3 other house’s, no busy roads thank goodness.
    Have a lovely Easter…:)

  9. I find it helpful to have a mixed flock so I can count groups based on color. Plus, I have goofy names for the groups like “The Breakfast Club” and “The Velociraptors”.

  10. My flock only has five hens, but it helps to have five different colors, you see first look if they are all there.. I had my white leghorn stuck halfway under the deck once trying to lay an egg there… She hurt her wing coming back out… Lesson Learned, no more gaps for them to get under there…

  11. You have a “butterfly garden”? Could you take a picture of it during late spring for me? Something so-named invokes a necessity to see it during it’s prime!