The birds were immediately exposed, soaking wet and huddled together in a hopelessly vulnerable mass. Some birds were missing. They had fallen into a storm ditch nearby that was beginning to swell with water. I found them by listening to their cries. They were huddled up under an eroded embankment. I had to feel my way in to find them.
In the meantime I flipped the cage over the exposed birds on the grass. Once I'd gathered the rest from the ditch, I wondered how to get them all through the rest of the storm. I knew the cage would flip again. So I did the only thing I could think of. I climbed inside the cage with them and held onto it. My heart raced, Bel worried and Calvin thought I was going to die for sure. The wind picked the cage right up of the ground a few more times, but I managed to hold it down. When things finally calmed down I climbed out and shuffled all 25 birds into the shed where they could calm down and dry off... At least I thought all 25 birds were there. One was actually missing, but we didn't know it 'till the next day.
In the morning, as we took care of the birds, we heard a squawking sound coming from the ditch behind us. Bel said, "Is that a chicken?" We both looked around at the eroded embankment when up jumped chicken number 25. He was missing, and we didn't even know it. All but forgotten, spending the night in the ditch, he should have washed away! Not this bird, he wasn't ready to be forgotten. So over he came as proud as he could be to the cage for his victory meal.
He was in pretty bad shape -so covered in mud that it was sticking to his eyelids. His tail feathers looked like an arrangement of broken stems in a vase, and he was a wee bit disoriented.
He is just a meat bird -but for the ordeal we experienced last night and for our amazement and joy at seeing him come up from that ditch this morning, we're thinking about making him a permanent member of Spring Garden Acre. Doesn't he deserve it!
What a wild night! Thankfully the garden was alright. Some of our cauliflower plants were tipped over and our peas are shaken up a bit. But all in all, everybody made it safe and sound.