This evening, as I walked out on the deck with an article about rain barrels in my hand…
(I don’t know why)
…I glanced over toward the chicken coop and saw this:
“SHIT. Greg, I need your help!”
“I. NEED. YOUR. HELP.”
“What is it?”
“We have CHICKENS ON THE LOOSE.”
I dropped my paper and went tiptoeing as quickly as I could the rest of the way down the stairs. See, my pullets aren’t the kind of fantasy chickens I’ve read about, the kind who let you walk right up to them and pick them up like big babies, to be held and cuddled and bathed and whatever else some of these crazy chicken owners do. Kinda like my kids.
No, these girls – while arguably quite fond of us as the Keepers of the Krickets – they’re independent-minded and therefore certainly do not care to be handled. Or told what to do. Kinda like me.
As I approached, I saw yet another of them on the ground outside the pen. Meanwhile, two or three of them had jumped back inside.
“Okay,” I thought, “this is doable. I’m going to herd this one back around to the door” (which I had just opened because all the other pullets were safely out in the run away from the door).
The chickens haven’t got a lot of experience in being herded, but fortunately do have a desire to be with their own kind, so she stuck close to the fence all the way around…and then bypassed the open door and kept right on going, all the way back to the other side of the pen.
On the other side of the pen, after I’d finally caught her and deposited her into the netting, I thought I was done.
“What?” asked Greg.
“I LEFT THE DOOR OPEN.”
Well, he’d been trying to help me and so he hadn’t noticed either, and of course all the OTHER chickens were sauntering out the open door onto the free range, mooning us and smirking as they went.
“I didn’t realize I’d be herding chickens so early in my career,” I remarked, laughing. It wasn’t the first time I’d herded animals by virtue of an open gate. Anyone who’s been around farm animals knows they fully comprehend the implications of an open fence and they take advantage of it.
Greg, for his part, was having a bully of a time.
As I drove them back around the pen I caught Greg’s attention, insistently whispering (because you know, the chickens would have heard and understood anything above a whisper – eyeroll), “Open the door. OPEN THE DOOR.”
And as they came around, at least 3 of them went in the door. Hot damn!
But not the boss pullet.
Noooo, she kept right on going and headed toward the playground and Freedom!
Fortunately she hasn’t really figured out how much she can fly and it was easy to get around her and get her back in. Relatively easy, I should say. Easier than with, say, cattle.
So much for pullets on the lam. That netting over the top of the run is temporary. I had tied it with twine to keep them in and felt it was reasonably secure, but the girls had been jumping up and grabbing the twine for sport. They were successful in untying 2 strategically important pieces – enough to give them an escape route.
Time for that permanent run top.
And for me to stop underestimating these chickens.
I have to admit they’re entertaining as hell, though.