I don’t wish to impugn Creation, but. . .chickens are stupid. Incredibly stupid. But I knew that when we got our first brood, back in 2006.
As I headed up the hill toward our chicken house with the hens’ daily apple core, I noticed that one of the hens was running around loose and squawking hysterically. It was the second chicken escape in two years.
The drama queen of our three evidently somehow dug her way under the coop, which rests on delicious fresh alfalfa. She was running around, circling the chicken trailer (aka “the coop” or “the ark”), apparently desperate to return to her chums, even though I held the door open for her. Thankfully, her mates made no attempt to join her frenzy.
I tried leading the scurrying hen by walking slowly ahead of her, but she panicked and bolted in the opposite direction, toward the end of the coop that had no door.
I tried chasing her, but I felt more stupid than I had reckoned she was, as she warily switched directions at panicked-bird speed.
Finally, I stood holding the door open and she ran in, batting her wings. I secured the door and hoped a Spring re-run was not forthcoming.
Our chickens are in an enclosure for good reasons. Errant dogs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and feral cats roam our field; and hawks, owls, and eagles hover and swoop down to seize prey. The hens’ enclosure has comfortable elevated roosts where they like to lay their eggs. We like the roosts too, because the eggs are accessible and fairly clean.
I collected the egg one of the girls had laid. Walking back down the path to the house, I wondered whether the chicks housed in the small coop in my husband’s workshop will be as feisty as their two-year-old elders when they grow big enough to join them outdoors in the chicken ark. The sequel is just a few months off. . . .