Thursday, September 9, 2010

Co-existing in Greener Pastures

For a long time, my chickens Leah, Goldi Macaroni and Stella, were content in their little run. I brought them treats, and they ranged around eating bugs and leaves in addition to their chicken feed, all day. Slowly, slowly the green bits in their run started to disappear.

They started jumping up to peck at the leaves on the lowest branches of the trees. It was during one of those jumps that they probably noticed a land beyond. A land of tree stumps and leftover popsicle sticks covered with ants. A utopia of dead flower heads and radish seedlings. They were no longer content in their little run.

Around the same time their wings were growing stronger. They probably noticed that the poodle now took little notice of them, apart from the occasional tentative charge, for which she was typically scolded.

One day, I left the gate of their little run open so that I could supervise them ranging around the yard. Yummies everywhere! It was over. The seed was planted, and the wanderlust began.

Regularly, the girls would hop up on top of their coop, and from there easily clear their fence. It was fine. I had a fenced-in backyard. It would be too hard for them to clear the chain link fence around the yard, wouldn’t it? How na├»ve.

It might have been okay if my next door neighbor, recently retired and increasingly active in his own backyard, hadn’t noticed them, and been charmed by a visit from what he thought was a mini-flock of wild chickens. He tossed some corn around, and they made friends with him, and his yard. Away they went, every morning, and they always came back.

But one day, they didn’t. Nobody knew where they were. On that day, I had meetings with my boss in Manhattan. I couldn’t climb fences, call neighbors or bring out my own cup of tempting seeds. Children were offered rewards for finding them.  I prepared for the worst, but when I got home around sundown Miss B. had found them in another neighbor's yard, trapped behind their rosebushes.

I hate to clip their wings, because I know they will have a harder time getting away from predators now. The major predator, though, the one in my yard that I was most worried about, has become less of a concern and more of an ally.


TALON said...

Every time I read Goldi Macaroni I have to smile - that's got to be the most unique chicken name ever! I'm glad Miss B is being a such a great dog and chicken herder. She's probably secretly delighted the chickens are misbehaving and she isn't ;)

I never really think of chickens jumping and flying around and being such clever escape artists!

catmint said...

what a wonderful and cute story. If I were starting again I'd get chickens ... well, maybe next life. I just checked out your online book club. It's a great idea, thank you for opening it up and being so welcoming.

Patti Lacy said...

Your place SOOO reminds me of my best friend's place. The chickens get into her husband's garden and wreak havoc on the vegetable matter.
I wish you could meet her!!!


nanny said...

You have the prettiest chickens I have ever seen, and they look so healthy! I think they would be fun to watch jumping and flying.....

Now Miss B is a doll, just a cutie!

meemsnyc said...

Oh, I love this post! Thanks for leaving me a message on my blog. We are dreaming of raising chickens. I think Bantams, because they are smaller and I feel maybe more manageable. It's nice that you have nice neighbors who don't mind the visitors. Are the hens loud? That's my biggest concern.

JGH said...

Meems, the hens are not loud - it's the roosters you have to be careful with. The hens cluck and coo softly and will only let out a BAWK if provoked. You really can't hear them from 20 paces away.