I thought we had a routine. I thought events were quieting down for the winter. I thought Nora and Edna knew where they lived. But noooo, life has been too dull; they think, "We're still young and beautiful. We must go out in the world and seek our fortune. Besides, we've already molted and grown back our flight feathers."
I let everybody roam the yard for a few hours before nightfall, as I do several times a week. When it's dark enough for everybody to be inside, I go down and shut the door to the pen. Zora has even been sleeping in the mini-barn with the big hens, leaving Edna stubbornly occupying the hutch. Tonight, no Modern Game bantams in the barn or the hutch.
I shut the door to the barn and left the door to the pen open, not that this makes any difference because I get up before it's light enough for the chickens these days. I shone the flashlight all along the fence line, all over the yard. They are somewhere in the trees, sitting ducks, so to speak, for the raccoons that climb those very trees to get to my roof. I hope the raccoons don't hunt around here tonight.