Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday Night Entertainment?

To say my life is "interesting" is a relative term, but I'll let you be the judge. Different, possibly, but certainly my own. Of course, it is my life so I find lots of enjoyment from it by being surrounded by my family and friends, growing and preserving our own food, having chickens and living a life with God as the center. Last Friday night was no exception to my so called "interesting" life. As most eagerly got off work to enjoy an evening out on the town, put their feed up and watch a movie, etc...I was busy grabbing a empty box from work, map questing an address, and texting my husband these few words... "Please get Keegan. I will b out rescuing a chicken. Seriously...I will explain more when I get home."

Thankfully, my husband is a gracious man and doesn't say too much about my...ahem..."interesting" life. So after finishing my text, I was in the car onto my next adventure...rescuing a chicken.  I know, most of you are shaking your heads...but hey, it is my just have the privilege of knowing me. (Well, I hope so!)

My Friday started out like any other one. Get up, drink tea, let the chickens out, get the kids ready for school, carpool, drop the kids off and head into work. Two hours into work I had a conversation with one of our members that changed the course of my Friday evening. She unfolded a story of a neighbor's lone chicken, abandoned and being sought out by the local coyote. As I listened intently, she suddenly asked would I come out and rescue the chicken. Huh? What is that you say...rescue the said chicken?

Suddenly I had questions, what kind of chicken was it? Was it a rooster? Was it injured? How old was it? Do you have permission to save the said chicken?
And just like that...with the exchange of phone numbers and address my Friday evening had been sealed. At 4 pm when I left work, I was meeting the Y member to rescue the chicken. (I know..."interesting".)

As I pulled up their driveway in the rain no less, I had no idea what to expect. I opened my trunk for inspiration...for tools. Well...I did have the box from work and...YES, my husband had left his pull over boots in the trunk from the Earth Day project a couple weeks ago. After slipping my Drew's boots on and enjoying some light conversation with Joyce, we walked up to the neighbors barn and there she was...the chicken.
I was relieved to find she appeared in good health, sitting on a couple of eggs. However, I was more relieved to see her in a somewhat contained area. This rescue was going to be a cake walk I thought.

Joyce had enlisted the help of her husband as well so I was happy that this job of rescue would be over soon...I mean of course, it would! Three adults and 1 random chicken...easy, done, finished. However, as I bent down to pick her up...crazy chicken evoked! Even though Joyce was standing in front of the opening where the door had been...she was gone. Fantastic! Now we had the joy of catching a chicken in an open pasture and of course in the rain no less. Yeap. My Friday evening had turned from interesting to "Oh, my goodness...this is going to be FUN!"

There is no book on how to chase a chicken, especially one that is not extremely accustomed to humans or one that has had practice out running coyotes for the past couple of weeks. As I jogged behind the ever increasing chicken, thoughts raced in my mind. What in the world I'm I doing? How in the world was I going to catch this chicken? In the past, my children have been my source of help when I couldn't catch a chicken. Keegan is especially helpful and has no fear when it comes to catching chickens. However, I was in an open field, in the rain with three adults running after a chicken. Entertaining I'm sure...even the neighbor came and sat on his porch and watched all of the commotion for awhile. Seriously? Thank God he didn't video tape it...I didn't want to see my Friday adventure youtubed for the whole world to see. I mean, blogging about my adventure was going to be good enough. I am glad we provided some entertainment for the neighbor, but honestly.

Think Katie Jean. What was my strategy? Ok, I had it we have to somewhat contain it again...convince her to go back to her old coop. Convince a chicken? Are you crazy? And that is just what we did...after about 30 minutes of running, chicken cackling, and utter frustration. She was back in her coop...of course without a door!
Laying near the entrance was the door and in utter desperation I looked at Joyce and said "Hold this door up! I'm going in...whatever you do don't let go of the door until I've got a chicken in my hands!" And after a few more minutes that is what I did...without fear I grabbed the very unhappy chicken and stuffed her into my box from work. Success.

With grins and hand shakes we congratulated one another as we had cornered and successfully caught the chicken. Now I only had to get her home and introduce her to my existing flock. Worried that I would have a rogue chicken flopping around my car, we quickly thought to duck tape the box down. How in the world was I going to explain this one to the cop when I got pulled over...yes, duct tape was a good option.

Driving home my phone beeped. Oh, a text message from Drew..."R u ok? Been home 4 awhile." to describe this adventure to my wonderful husband and better yet present my box of new fun...the rouge chicken. I couldn't think of any other way to tell my husband about my new friend in the car so when I walked in the door but said something like, "I have a surprise for you!". Yes, definitely a surprise. He is such a gracious man.

It has been a week now since my Friday adventure and it has been tough introducing the new girl to the flock. I'd love to say it was just a wonderful thing, but they were not thrilled. No, not at all and there has been much chicken drama at the Little Blue Bungalow. I have found most of my week herding chickens...existing flock out of the chicken chicken out of the coop...existing flock in the coop. I'm sure you get the picture.

It will get better once everyone knows there place on the pecking just takes time. Yea, we've got some chicken drama going on...similar to a fight scene from West Side Story. I'm just waiting for the story book ending, but least it is interesting.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean


Joyce said...

Loved reading your blog! Here's a copy of part of the email I sent to my folks about "The Great Chicken Rescue" Since your blog limits comments, I will have to submit it in parts. (I tend to go on a bit...)

Our neighbors like to keep birds-- chickens, ducks, geese-- especially the babies, and they get new ones each spring. Unfortunately, they are lazy about caring for the birds and once they are grown, the neighbors turn them out of the barn to "free range." This situation, unfortunately, leads to two problems: coyotes and rats. The rats are in their barn (they stay close to their food source, lucky for us) because when they dump the 50# bag of feed into the Rubbermaid container, they toss the bag (and all the feed that sticks to it) on the floor until lots of bags pile up and they take them to the garbage all at once. Lots of bags plus lots of loose grain equals a rat problem. So they put rat poison around the barn. That became a problem for us when Caesar came trotting home one day carrying a bag of "RatKill". He was so proud of himself, bringing home this "treat" to share with us. (They make the poison very tasty so the rats will eat it.) I immediately called the poison control hotline and they told me what to do. Basically, it involved a $350 vet visit where they induced vomiting, confirmed that he had eaten some of the poison, gave him activated charcoal to absorb as much of it out of his stomach as possible, waited for more vomiting, and finally (by 4 hours later Clay was there with me) let us take him home. He has to take pills for the next 30 days to counter the anticoagulent in the rat poison, and then be tested to make sure his blood is clotting properly. We had 3 scary days where he was vomiting everything he ate, including the pills (did I mentioned that we had just had the carpets professionally cleaned?!?!), shaking, and just laying around. I knew it was bad when he didn't even do his "Happy Supper Dance." The good news is that he is already back to his usual goofy self (the solution was one Prilosec a day...the same pill Clay takes for his stomach!), tolerating the meds and keeping down his food. And later today we start a series of 8 Intermediate Obedience classes. Yay! I'm so thankful he brought the bag home or we never would have known anything was wrong until it was too late.

Joyce said...

The Great Chicken Rescue, part 2

Now the coyotes are a whole other problem. We have lots of wildlife out here, living, as we do, in a rural area. And that's fine, as long as the wild animals stay wild and don't become dependant on us for food. Unfortunately, a pair of local coyotes discovered the birds, which the neighbor lazily did not bother to bring in at night or protect in any way. So one by one, the birds got eaten. A couple of times the dogs alerted me and I was able to scare the coyote away. Twice I witnessed a "catch." Talk about feathers flying everywhere! I know the things have to eat, and they will get whatever is easiest first, so I don't blame them for catching their dinner--I blame the neighbor. One by one, the chickens disappeared, until there were 3 remaining: two hens and a rooster. Six geese became two. Then one. (And geese are big, nasty birds, with teeth!) We found the last one, minus it's head, in our pasture. Clay thinks the female coyote killed it and it was too big to drag off. I think something frightened the coyote (a dog?) as it was carrying the goose off, so it dropped it and fled. About half of the ducks disappeared, one by one. The remaining ones figured out that they were safe in the center of the small pond. (Darwin's Theory at work? Survival of the fittest?) I watched, unable to get downstairs in time to scare it off, as the coyote snatched the rooster, which was bravely (stupidly) trying to fight and protect his hens. Then the black and white speckled hen disappeared, and all that was left was the red one. The neighbor had cleaned the barn and closed it and wouldn't let the birds back in! A few days ago, just as I was getting ready to leave for the Y, Caesar and Hoot started barking at the window and I saw the coyote charging at the last remaining chicken. I shot out the front door yelling and waving my arms, but feathers were already flying. The coyote went one way, both dogs in pursuit, and the chicken raced past me in the other direction--I didn't know they could move so fast. I ran after it to see if it was ok, but couldn't find it. I didn't know, as I called the dogs back and headed out to the Y, if I had saved a life or if I had just witnessed the proverbial "running like a chicken with it's head cut off." It really bothered me. But that night, as he took the garbage and recycling cans out, Clay saw the red chicken! The next morning, on my way out to the Y, I saw her too. And by the time I was done with my workout and shower, I had figured out a way to save her. One of the women who works at the Y, Katie Jean, raises chickens. Every time I do food for the Y, I save the fruit and vegetable scraps for Katie Jean's chickens. So I explained the situation and asked her if she thought she could incorporate this chicken into her flock. She said yes (they establish a pecking order--sometimes they kill a bird in the process) it would be worth a try. So later that day (Friday -- 3 days ago) KJ came over after work and she, Clay and I chased the chicken all over for 20 minutes until we caught it. We were able to trap it because it went into a small area (after running all across the pastures) where we found it had laid three eggs. KJ said that this particular species of chicken is a prolific layer and highly prized. She has two in her flock. Well, now three. As of Saturday morning, the last I heard, the chicken was eating (this is good--it means it wasn't too traumatized by the chase, catch and move) and had gone into the nesting box with the others at night. (Protected, as it should be, from predators!) So that's the story of the great chicken rescue.