The other evening I went out to feed the chickens, like I do every day. But this time one of the restless hens decided that she was going to make a break for it! As soon as the door was opened she saw her chance and flew with all her might, escaping over my shoulder and landing on the ground below. Freedom!
Dang. I fed the rest of the good little girls, and went about trying to catch this rascally hen.
Do you have any idea how fast a chicken can run? Yeah… I didn’t. You always see these pictures of a little farm girl nicely holding a happy hen to her chest, like catching it was as easy as picking up a puppy. I thought I’d just nicely scoop her up into my arms, and put her back where she belonged. R-i-i-ight.
My first few attempts at catching her were calm and rational. While she quite contentedly pecked around at the ground below her coop, I very politely tried to come up behind her and gently get her in my hands to return to safety.
The chicken, however, had other plans.
She wasn’t about to let me get a hold of her. Every time I would get within millimeters of grasping her, she’d laugh at me and take off running the other way.
Catching her quickly became a family effort. And as my husband was still at work, it was all up to me and the kids. The two of them did a fantastic job of chasing the chicken back towards me, the best that they could, but I still could not get her within my reach.
For an HOUR we chased this dumb chicken. The sun was quickly setting, and I really did not want to leave her out in the wide open woods, alone, all night long. I knew a raccoon, a fox, or something else would surely get her.
So there I was, my pregnant belly practically dragging the ground as I crawled on my hands and knees (in the mud!) trying my best to sneak up on the feisty hen. For a while she stayed under her coop, and the kids would chase her from one side to the other trying to get her to me.
Jada was running after her yelling, “Get back here you dumb chicken!” And Titus was chasing it with a toy bat; both trying to scare it my way. I know, poor chicken, right? Yeah, well, you would not have thought that if you were me at that moment. My poor unborn baby, was more like it!
Then the hen decided that she was going to take off into the woods; flying onto low limbs and scurrying under fallen trees. So here I am, chasing after her through the scratchy pines; jumping over logs, ducking under branches, reaching high and low, lunging at the scared creature.
I was mad. I was extremely frustrated. I was yelling at the chicken.
Not exactly the best example to my kids, I must admit. “Come back here you dumb chicken!” “Dang it! I need to get you back into your coop! Stand still for a minute!”
As my frustration level escalated, I am ashamed to say, so did my language. Yes folks, I did it… I began saying the big “no no” word in our home. Stupid.
“You STUPID chicken!! Fine! I’m sick of this. I am not going to chase you around any more!”
“Stupid, stupid chicken! You’re going to get eaten if you don’t let me put you back!”
By the end of that hour I had decided that if the chicken got eaten it was because it deserved it. I finally told the kids, who seemed to be enjoying the chase, that we were done trying to catch her. I was too tired to keep running and crawling after it.
I went into my garden and attempted to get some work done, as I had planned to do an hour before. The sky was quickly growing dark, and in the middle of my hoeing we began to feel a light rain coming down on us. It was still pretty hot outside, so the cool mist was a welcomed treat.
In the midst of my work, I noticed that the chicken was back at her coop, and was trying desperately to get back in. She was flying up to the door, and grasping the screen with her claws. I threw my head back, knowing that I had to try again.
I slowly walked over to her, and sat down beside coop. She dropped down and ran away for a moment, but much to my relief she came right back, flew up, and clung to her door once again. As she hung on, I slowly reached up and wrapped my hands firmly around her.
She squawked and fussed, but I was finally able to place her back into the safety of her home.
As I closed the door I laughed, and let out a sigh of relief. Then I turned to the kids, who had been watching from the garden, and threw my hands up in the air in victory as I yelled, “Mommy caught the chicken!” I was really glad that I had caught her before nightfall. I really didn’t want her to get eaten.
I learned a couple of lessons though. Next time I will not waste my time chasing the chicken around.
Also, seeing how she tried to get back in when it became dark, I realize that they might be ready to be let loose during the day. She obviously knew where “home” was. So, we are going to build a ladder for them to get up and down, and see how they do during the day.
I’ll be happy to let them free range. We just have to worry about the hawks, and the stray dogs that run onto our property. Hopefully they will do well, and enjoy their new freedom. It would be really nice to not have to catch them anymore!
So, anyways, what a time! At least the kids enjoyed the game. And Mommy got a little exercise!