We were heading out on our walk down to the river after Tom got home Wednesday night when he glanced over near the compost bin and asked, "Uh, why is that chicken on the OUTSIDE of the fence?!"
At that same time, the dogs saw her, too, and set out with fierce determination involving carnage and fresh chicken meat! Maisy was stopped with a (very) loud, "Maisy, NO!", but Tucker was oblivious. Fortunately, Tom was able to get to Tucker and the hen before any damage was done, and here you see him returning to me with the hen swaddled in his shirt.
Since then, there have been two more escapees - both on the same day. Tucker had the first one downed in the open area of what will be the barnyard, and so I got to them before any harm was done.
The second one was chased (again, by Tucker) halfway down the ravine into the valley, and I was ill-equipped in my pedal-pushers and gardening clogs for the race through the brush to get to the hen before Tucker did much damage. He has earned the new name Tucker the Plucker because he seems to LOOOOOVE plucking all the feathers out of caught chickens. Normally, this wouldn't be a HUGE problem (like if he went for their jugulars right off the bat), but, in pursuit of this new fancy, their tender skin gets torn. So, this poor second hen was a bit wounded by the time I reached her. She had NO tail left, and the skin was torn on her back. I knew that if the bare skin didn't heal quickly, the wound would attract the attention of the other chickens who can easily turn - unfortunately - cannibalistic. That evening, the wound had opened up a bit more, although she hadn't been bothered yet. But, better safe than sorry, we applied a liberal amount of iodine which provided both a cleansing and drying effect. Now, happily, she seems none the worse for wear!
And, incidentally, I did find the escape route during a "perimeter search". The freezing and thawing of the ground had shifted the dirt, branches, and trees, and provided just enough of a gap underneath the fencing to allow escape for any curious birds. During the same search, I also happened to find an outdoor nest that contained 15 eggs! Twits.