Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The great escape

Zora and Edna levitated the other day and shot out through an opening at the top of their pen. Remember, they are bantam Moderns—light-bodied and able to fly high into the trees. Not knowing they were out, I walked outside with the dogs and, oops, there were dogs and hens goggling at each other in surprise. The dogs charged after the chickens, I charged after the dogs, Edna flew for the coop, and Zora zoomed into the trees bordering the yard.

She landed somewhere on the other side of the fence and, despite much searching, I did not find her. I searched the surrounding yards at intervals throughout the evening but had no luck. When I finally gave up and went to close the door to the pen for the night, Zora had rematerialized and was pecking and scratching like everyone else.

I didn’t wring her neck. I don’t know how and it’s something you need to get right on the first try.

The next day she decided to go walkabout again, even with no one chasing her and all the hens together in the yard. I left her to her fate until evening when I heard her in the yard that backs onto mine. There's no gate between yards.

Fetching the container of meal worms in case I needed a bribe, I ran down my street, around the corner, down that street and around again to the other house. Knocked on the door. A young woman came out and I explained the problem. We searched around in her yard--no Zora, not a rustle or peep. It was time to leave her to fate or the neighbor’s Great Dane, whichever came first.

A half-hour before dusk I heard the musical sound of two young women’s chatter and uncontrollable laughter. It reminded me of nights in the college dorm. I wondered....

So I was not surprised a few minutes later when they appeared at my front door, all three—women and chicken—slightly out of breath. The women were grinning and giggling as they handed Zora over. Dodging and darting after an erratic chicken can be pretty fun.

“She’s like a little furnace,” one said.

Zora was indeed over-heated but that was her own fault. I gave the women some eggs. When the chicken books comment that keeping chickens is a way to get to know the neighbors, they are referring to eggs, not escapees.

I clipped Zora’s wings.

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