Sunday, February 3, 2008

The escapist

This evening Edlyn’s name changed to Edsel, after the best-known failed car. There are more expensive failures among cars but Edsel is the one that first comes to mind. Here’s what happened.

Yesterday the new chicks spent the day in the hutch, which still stands in the enclosure as it did before I got the roomier coop. The Poles had the run of the enclosure. After dark, I put the new ones on the perch in the coop. There was some grumbling, like people who have to make room in the bed after getting comfortable, but everybody settled down.

This morning when I let them out, I saw DartMouth was picking on the little Modern Game. Although there is nothing that she does not peck at—I’d name her Jaws but she’s a pecker, not a biter—I played it cautiously and put the Poles inside the hutch. Well, they complained all day long about being stuck in there while the other two ran around in their enclosure.

I went off to do some errands and got home an hour before dark. No little bitty banty in sight or hearing. Not in the yard. Not in the areas of the neighbors’ yards that I could see by climbing up the play platform (a fort for kids).

I let the remaining three be together so that they’d go inside the coop and squabble loudly and perhaps lure the banty home. I heard her in the neighbor’s yard on the east side of my place and ran over. The six-foot wood fence continues all down the side of my property, creating total privacy between the two places, so it was not until I got there that I saw the part of the yard close to my house looked like it had experienced a combination of mud avalanche and dynamite. I managed to get to what looked like a gate into their yard. Couldn’t see or reach a latch. Piled up two cement landscaping bricks (oops, forgot to put them back), climbed up, still couldn’t find a latch. These people didn’t want anyone escaping out or in.

Ran around to the other side where it was easier to get around on the mud but couldn’t see the chicken, though I could hear her. Ran back around to what appeared to be the front door. It was a decorative door and had steps leading up but there was a ladder across two walls of cement landscape brick. Why? You can’t paint in this cold, wet weather. I ran up on tip-toe, banged on the door. Movement and talk inside but no one came to the door. I’m thinking these are strange people. Banged on the door again and finally a man opened it. I hurriedly explained the chicken problem and asked if there was a way to get to the part of the yard where the chicken was. No, he would go out and see and I should run back around to where I had just been.

By which time Edlyn was walking along the fence top between the back of his property and the yard of the one behind him. She had a choice between the names Edsel and Dumbsh**.

The fences meet in a four-way intersection bordering four yards. All I could do was follow cautiously. She crossed over to the fence backing my yard, so I charged back and—no hen in sight. I waited, heard a rustling, and there she was at least 30 feet up in a fir tree.

This was one of those moments when you consider shooting the chicken with something to get it down. At least that way you can sleep peacefully, knowing the chicken has met her maker and not having to worry if some predator has taken her there instead.

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