Some moments crystalize how much life has changed for your bloggess-in-Maine over the past few years. Whereas once I would call in late to work due to "alarm failure" which was more than likely MY failure to not drink 8 whiskey and sodas and stumble home singing Liz Phair at the top of my lungs at 4 am, now--well, now, I call in late due to rogue chickens.
So. At first, yesterday morning was typical and, Little A. and I were on time. But then as we took the first turn towards her daycare - I spotted a chicken. A chicken just pecking away casually at bugs or whatever on the side of the road. Like, whassup dudes, nice weather we are having, what's so weird about a loose chicken wandering the roadside?
After a moment of processing, all hell broke loose (in my brain): OMG IS OUR CHICKEN ALL THE CHICKENS ARE LOOSE COOP IS COMPROMISED WAS A FOX MASSACRE MAYHEM HALP!!!11!!!
So I pulled over, put the hazards on, gave Little A. a magazine to while away the time (as if watching hugely pregnant Mama attempting to corral a chicken wasn't enough entertainment) and waddled after the reddish little chicken beside the road. After a few minutes, I realized I could never waddle fast enough to catch the girlchik, so I called the FYD, basically gave him the all-caps message above, said I AM GOING HOME TO CHECK ON THE OTHERS GET HERE FAST 911 EMERGENCY STYLE.
But at home? All chickens were present and accounted for. I counted heads over and over, but each time I got six. Six was right.
SO WHO IS THIS MYSTERY CHICKEN?? I know you are just dying to know.
A theory started percolating in my brain as I drove back to the chicken-spotting site with a box of feed to sprinkle around. If I couldn't catch her, at least I could keep her from going deeper into the woods until the FYD got there.
Which he did, just a few minutes later (we take our chicken emergencies seriously around here). We worked together to bumrush the poor lil chickin into an impassable patch of weeds. She crossed the road once, much to the merriment of some trucker dude (or maybe it was my pregnant ass hustling across the road that was so funny), but once she was in those weeds, the FYD made a heroic tackle and came up with an arm full of protesting bird.
She quickly calmed down after she realized she was caught for good. We looked her over to see if she had any injuries - nothing. She seemed healthy and bright-eyed and, you know, dumb. But that is just the chicken way. I told the FYD that the rest of our flock was safe at home.
We looked at each other - could it be? Could this be one of the chickens we thought was killed by a fox in the great massacre of Summer 2011? We lost 3 in one night, which seemed like a bit of over-achievement on the fox's part. Had she been living in the woods all this time, scavenging bugs and avoiding dangers? We thought, maybe. Maybe. We couldn't QUITE remember if one of the lost chickens had been that color, with those markings.
So the FYD took her back to our coop and let her loose just outside the main containment area, so the birds could sniff each other out. Little A. and I continued on our day, having an interesting story to tell.
(Little A's version went something like this: We caught a chicken and took it home! Well, Daddy did. Mama had to call Daddy. There was a loose chicken in the woods! Mama couldn't catch it. It was a friendly chicken, but it didn't want Mama to catch it. Mama was too slow.)
That night, after the post-dinner and bedtime rush, I went out to check on the chicken-ladies. The FYD had cautiously integrated the rogue into the flock. And there she was, roosted up next to her sisterfriends. Like they remembered each other. We'll never really know what she went through during those months she was in the woods, but we're glad to have her home.
Or, you know, we stole someone else's lost chicken. In which case, don't share this story TOO liberally, ok?