Living the Dream: Rita's disappearance has us flummoxed

It was just one of those normal, everyday, autumn evenings, with nothing out of the ordinary going on at all and I wasn't expecting anything else.

It had been a busy day, so, I was all set to park myself and get my feet up, but before I could do that, I needed to make sure all our residents were safely tucked up in their beds. Thankfully, everyone was behaving themselves, and apart from having to resort to the odd treat to coax a certain pony to play ball, my normal bedding down routine was going to plan.

But we all know around here that often when you think things are going so well, something can appear to mess up your day and this was one of those days. In most cases, I just need to check everyone is where they should be and are all well, but on the odd occasion there are certain members of our extended family who decide that they fancy a change.

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After sorting most of the menagerie, I walked back through the yard and had only to lock Rita’s front door for the night. Now each evening as I shut and lock her door, I automatically lift the lid of her hen house and say goodnight, which I have to say, is special treatment, because most don’t get that from me.

So, I crouched down, shut the door with my right hand and instinctively lifted the lid with my left… I paused, it took a moment to register... no Rita! Where on earth was she? I checked out some of her regular haunts around the farm, thinking that she had just got caught out and dusk had fallen before she could get back to her home, but I was unsuccessful.

I went and spoke to Wendy to see if she had seen her recently and she had, as I had, when she had come for her teatime treat outside the front door, but that was the last time. Together, we went in search of our little feathered friend, knowing that if we couldn’t find her safe, we would almost certainly lose her to Mr Fox.

The barn was our first port of call and we took it apart as we searched, leaving nothing unturned, then through the woods, the stables, the veg patch, the wood pile, the compost heap and all her favourite roosting trees too, but without success.

A couple of hours had now passed, but without success, so we decided that we’d leave it for the night, with certain people around here adamant that she had been got!

Bright and early the next morning, off I went about my chores and as I walked through the barn and being well versed in hen talk I called for Rita, because ordinarily she would answer me back and surprise... from outside the back door of the barn, she did just that. Where had she been? Her bed hadn’t been slept in and there she was unscathed. It was a mystery, but a mystery that happened the next night too, but we checked out the clues and worked it all out.

It appears after Rita’s best friend Queenie had passed away, she had become lonely. We had noticed recently that she had been spending more and more time with the sheep, but never thought that she would end up shacking up with them in their shelter, but that’s exactly what she’d been doing. All is once again back to normal and hopefully she won’t go visiting too often.