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Some of you readers have good memories. How do I know? Several of you recently asked about the chickens we had before we embarked on our tour of America. Here's the up-date.

The girls' (chicken's) names are Goldie, Whitey, Elona and Red Head. And we kept one of the hatchlings and named her Baby. Carol said the girls were the best-fed chickens in Arkansas. I bought them feed from Tractor-Supply; supplemented it with corn, wheat, lettuce, and tomatoes; dug up worms for them; they followed me as I mowed the lawn and gorged on crickets; and I fed them June bugs. Carol took movies of them following me all over the yard wanting to be picked up.

But several months before we departed on our 10-month trip, Baby and Goldie disappeared without so much as a feather to give a clue to a possible struggle. We know they didn't "fly-the-coop" because they enjoyed living with us, and they always put themselves up each night. We couldn't figure out what happened until we saw signs of someone -- or something -- opening our coop. I always closed the coop door, but a couple of times forgot to lock it. Then when I saw the door open in the morning, I figured one of the girls pushed it open.

I purchased a motion-sensitive night-vision camera and set it up -- and made sure the coop door was secure. The next day I saw several pictures of trees and grass, but no intruder. It must have been the moving fence that set it off. So I adjusted the angle and, again, assured that the girls were secure.

Can you guess what I saw the next day? The camera took pictures of a family of four raccoons. They climbed the fence -- yes, climbed it! -- and tried for a half hour to open up the chicken coop. The girls were scared, but safe. But that tells me what happened to Goldie and Baby.

However, I didn't think of locking the feed bin. After giving up on the chicken coop, the coons were able to pry open the feed bin, chow down, and scatter chicken feed all over the place. So, I learned to lock the feed bin, too.

For the next two weeks, the night-vision camera took pictures of the raccoons climbing the fence, pulling on the coop doors, prying the feed bin doors, but all to no avail. I win.

Having settled that problem, we now began wondering what we would do with the girls while we were gone on our trip. Our neighbors previously told us they were thinking of getting chickens, so I asked them about taking ours. They were delighted, partly because they would, immediately, have everything they needed: birds, coop, feed, feed bin, and the knowledge of how to take care of them. (They had tended the birds while Carol and I were gone on previous short trips.)

So a week before we left, we transplanted the coop next door first, then put the girls in the coop for several hours. That way, when they exited the coop, they would know how to get back. As I mentioned, the girls put themselves up each night, and all we had to do was to close and secure the door.

I continued to set the night-vision camera aimed at where the coop had been in our yard to see what would happen. You might have guessed: it took five nights for the coons to figure out that everyone was gone.

Okay, so where are the birds now?

Several months after we left on our 10-month trip, our neighbors had a change in their lives. The wife decided to become a physician's assistant which required another year of schooling, and the husband had his hands full at his job. So they gave the birds to a friend in another town who had a rooster but no hens. You won't be surprised to find out that the girls immediately began enjoying their new home -- coop and all.

So the girls have had quite a life. Larry and Ann Dodgen had them for about five months then gave them to us; Carol and I had them for 18 months, then relocated them next door; our neighbors had them for about four months, then took them to what might be their retirement home.

Carol and I took many pictures and movies of the girls, so they'll always be part of our lives.

--GENE LINZEY IS A SPEAKER, AUTHOR, AND MENTOR. SEND COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS TO MASTERS.SERVANT@COX.NET. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Editorial on 07/31/2019

Print Headline: Where Are The Chickens?

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