"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthdays, Donuts, and Wayward Chickens

John the chicken

So my friend Brandie told me that it'd been awhile since I'd blogged about any animal stories.  And then wouldn't you know... yesterday we had a animal incident that very nearly begged itself to be told.

It was Tegan's birthday, and we were home all morning, babysitting Luna:

Isn't she sweet?
The girl wanted to go to Krispy Kreme to get her free dozen birthday donuts, and I needed to go to the grocery store to get the food for her dinner (she'd requested chicken fingers, fries, Dora fruit snacks, and strawberry ice cream.  We keep none of those things in the house)   So I make a general announcement that we were going to be going out, and everyone started getting dressed, brushing teeth, and otherwise doing all those things that you do to get ready.

I asked Spencer to round up the chickens and get them back in their coop.  As long as we're home, they free-range during the day, and then we close them in when we leave or when we go to bed at night.  Up until yesterday, I never worried too much about them getting out of the yard.   Plus their coop is here, and they have so far seemed to feel safe and secure within their space.  Our yard is walled in, and there's a fence between us and the neighbors.  I'd seen them sort-of-fly, but never getting more than a couple of feet off the ground.

Ordinarily, Spencer doesn't have much trouble rounding them up and getting them back into their coop, but yesterday they weren't being cooperative.  So he came inside looking for reinforcements (AKA Paxton & Everett)  I carried Luna out back to watch, and they all played "herd the chickens."  The first one to escape was one of the Leghorns - either Foghorn or Sam - who squeezed through the fence and wound up in the backyard of the vacant house next to us.  The troops all went over to retrieve her, and she came running back up our side walkway, properly remorseful.  They continued to try to shoo them, but the chickens were having none of it.  So I gave the baby to Spencer, and told them that I'd catch them myself and carry them, one by one, back to the coop.

I started with John, because John's always the easiest to catch.  One of the Barred Rocks was next,  but as I was trying to put her in, Paxton opened the door a little too wide, and John escaped again.  I put him back in and went to get a third.    We talked about what percentage of the chickens were in the coop.  As I was walking back with the chicken that would make it 50%, John got out again, and took off across the yard.

This went on for a very long time.

At some point, Sophie got outside.

This is Sophie

We've been very closely monitoring her around the chickens, because she seemed a little too eager to eat them.   But as she's been getting better and better (and since she's a herder and not a hunter) we've been giving her  too much  a little more leeway.  And yesterday, she was fine.

Until she wasn't.

She chased one of the Leghorns, who reacted with a little more panic then usual, flew straight up into the air, and landed on the roof of the patio:

I didn't know chickens flew that high.  Now I know.

I ran to get the ladder from the garage.

It's a new fangled fancy ladder that Mike just got over Christmas.  No clue how to use it, and no clue what I was actually going to do if and when I got up there.  So I'm carrying this (extremely heavy) ladder through the house, when I hear the boys yelling at Sophie again, and then screaming at her to stop.   I dropped the ladder right where I was, in the middle of the kitchen, and went running out to see what was going on.  She'd chased, and caught, the other leghorn.  She'd escaped by the time I got out there, and was hiding - terrified - behind the cooler on the patio.
And the one on the roof?  They could no longer see her anywhere.  Gone.

Dog goes back inside, I finish dragging the ladder out to the yard, and I'm fully prepared to venture onto the roof.  Except I couldn't even figure out how to open the ladder.  Have I mentioned that I don't do well in high pressure situations?

So I'm standing there, fiddling with the ladder, hoping and praying that the missing chicken hadn't made her way to the other side of the house (and the street), when Everett yelled out, "I see her!"

She'd decided she needed more of a challenge, and had gone higher:

I share the pictures just for a little perspective, but you'll notice that there is no chicken there.  I - briefly - considered running inside for the camera, in the midst of all my ladder finagling, but I did not.  I wouldn't have forgiven myself if it ended badly and I had to live with the knowledge that one of my sweet chickens met a tragic demise and I was taking pictures like a tourist. 

So you just need to imagine that there's a tiny, white, trembling chicken on the edge of that roof.

Imagine that you're trying to figure out how in the heck you can help get your young chicken back to safety.  Now imagine that you look away for half a second (because you're having an internal struggle about a camera) and you hear a huge squawking, fluttering commotion as the chicken flies over your head and lands, nonplussed, right in front of its coop.  

And just like that, it was over.  I finished gathering the others, including the traumatized one still hiding behind the cooler :( and safely locked them all inside.

We headed to the donut shop and grocery store about two and a half hours after we'd started getting ready.  We had our donuts, we had our dinner, and Tegan got to blow out the candles that I'd neglected at the party this past weekend.

And the chickens lived happily ever after.

The End.

1 comment:

redrockmama said...

Ack!! I am so so so relieved that the chicken didn't get eaten though. So sad! And so glad Tegan was able to blow our her candles :)


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