Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A visitor

The doorbell rings at 5:15pm. I look through the window and see our neighbor, Tim, from up the road standing on our front porch. I open the door. "Hey Tim", I say. "Hi Danni", he responds, "Did you maybe lose one of your chickens? I've got one in my yard."

Ack! Very few things make my heart race like the thought of one of my critters (child or animal) being loose and in possible jeopardy. I hastily excuse myself from Tim, run past him and down to the coop to do a quick headcount. 1..2..3...4, 5, 6, 7...8..9 and 10. Phew. They're all there. None of my babies have escaped and managed to walk the half mile up the road, fraught with danger and peril, to the neighbor's house.

Returning to Tim with a bit more poise, I ask him a few questions. "What does the chicken look like?" and "How long has she been there?" Also, the important "Who else but me has chickens around here??" Both of us thought I was the only chicken keeper anywhere in the immediate vicinity.

Tim, meanwhile, now clearly has something else on his mind. He's hoping, even though the chicken in his yard doesn't belong to me, that I'm going to come and help him catch his visitor. "I don't know chickens", he says, shrugging a bit. And this is, of course, no problem, because I do. I would love to help.

I grab my trusty dog/chicken/small animal crate, throw it in the back of the truck and tell my nephew, Andrew, who has been spending a few days at the farm, to throw on his boots. "Hurry!", I say, "We're going to go catch a chicken!" Here's the look I got in response:

This look says to me "Aunt Danni has enough chickens, why would she want to catch another one, but it still may be fun. Let's smile at her."

When we reach Tim's house, Tim is already walking through the brush trying to find the chicken, who has hidden herself deep in the ivy and ferns:

She is a speedy girl, though, and resists our grabbing attempts a number of times. Ultimately, we employ a trusty, giant salmon net to catch her. She's a beauty:

She doesn't fuss too much when I pop her into the crate:

It's unclear how long she has been "out and about", but she's hungry and thirsty and she wastes no time when I place the bowls in front of her:

She appears to be a Black Sex Link hen (a.k.a. Black Star) which is a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock hen. I have two of these hens currently, Princess and Cowgirl. They are exceptional egg layers and, in my opinion, are my two smartest chickens.

I notice some feather loss and breakage around her neck area - but no wound. This makes me wonder whether she didn't narrowly escape some kind of danger:

She's got bright eyes, great coloring in her comb and wattles and appears vigorous and healthy:

Despite all her stress, it doesn't take her long to give me a present:

And when I exclaim over it, she looks almost as surprised as I was to see it:

And so, after having had some refreshments, a bit of a rest and a nice egg-laying, she's now repeatedly running for the door every time I open it, telling me -in no uncertain terms- that she's ready to GET OUT and join that noisy bunch in the field below:

But she's going to be stuck in here for a least a bit longer:

It really is for the best. Some chicken experts recommend quarantining a new chicken for up to 30 days before introducing her to your existing flock. This allows you to safely rule out disease, mites, lice, etc. This seems very extreme to me, given these specific circumstances, especially for a chicken that is exhibiting no sign of illness whatsoever. I've checked her for wounds, lice, mites, runny eyes and nose, labored breathing, etc., and so far, she checks out fine!

Poor lass, you won't be peering through these bars forever:


  1. What a lucky find. I love my two Black Stars. Sturdy egg laying machines.
    She came to the right place.

  2. She is a beautiful hen, and what a sweet thing to give you a gift. That's got to be a sign that she's happy and content to be at Critter Farm. Good luck in introducing her to your flock. I've heard that can be tricky.

  3. She looks to be in great health. Good find.

  4. Gee, what is a pretty girl like this doing out on the town solo. Maybe she had heard through the grapevine all the action was happening at "critter farm".

  5. this is your visiting chicken I have heard about. She is a good looking hen. Bright and healthy. Still a good idea to keep her separately for a couple of weeks at least. She could have any of those things you mention. She also may get picked on by your flock at first. What have you named her?

  6. It will be interesting to see if any goats appear at your door in the future. Word gets around, you know. :)

  7. What an exciting time at the farm! I can imagine tho, how your heart began to race when Tim came to the door and asked if you had lost a chicken.

    I love that Andrew was there to assist you in capturing that sweet little chicken. Never a dull moment around your place. Thats for sure.

    She sure does look healthy. Very pretty girl. And to have already laid a beautiful egg? It wont be long now. She will get to meet the flock really soon, I bet. I just wonder what they all will say to each other....

  8. So do you think you'll keep her for real? That's strange; I wonder where she came from!

    We've always had black sex links, we have two currently, and I love them. They're pretty friendly, lay BIG eggs, and are always up-front and ready to "chat" :-P lol. :) Enjoy her! And WHAT ARE YOU NAMING HER?!?

  9. Oh Danni, she is beautiful. And quite happy at your place to leave such a nice egg. Hmmm, sounds like you have a new chicken!! Any thought on a name?

  10. Oh, your nephew's cute!

    She's a sweet little thing - I hope she can be introduced to the big flock soon - she looks eager.

  11. Ahhh I'm not the only one that takes in strays...although I've never taken in a stray chicken! Good luck with your new little lady, Kim

  12. Half the fun of getting a new chicken is naming her. I confess, I have stayed up late at night thinking up chicken names; if only I could have as many chickens as I have names.

  13. What a pretty, pretty girl! And lucky to have found a home at Critter Farm too. I've never found a stray chicken, but it amazes me how many people do. Someone on the BYC forum found one in a shopping strip parking lot in town!

    I'm excited to hear what you name her too! And how the introductions go with the flock. Once you give her a clean bill of health, do you have an area you can section off with wire close to the flock and keep her in there for a day or two so they can safely get a little acquainted through wire before turning her out with them?

    If you're taking name suggestions, I vote for Gypsy ;-)

    And I LOVE the picture of your nephew! What a cutie. Great smile.

  14. I would be the happiest kid on the planet if a black star just appeared in my neighborhood. She is a beauty!! I have 4 black stars that lay daily, without fail. My other hens need to use that as an example and stop slackin :)
    Also, I think its good you are quarantining her, did you read my "lessons learned" post? Yeah thats the one where i took a Polish from a swap and put her right in with my hens and infested my entire flock with poultry mites.
    fun times.


  15. Good looking hen, but handsome, handsome nephew!
    I hope she's able to integrate without being tormented too much by your group.

  16. Wow! I'd love to find a stray chicken to lay eggs for me. I haven't gotten any eggs in almost a month! I'm going to have to buy eggs (gasp!).

  17. Well, she couldn't have come to a better place!!

  18. She is a pretty girl. And how nice of her to give you an egg right off the bat.

  19. She must have heard about you through the millet vine Danni! She's probably ran miles to be at Critter Farm!!

    the wv was Moggy...maybe her new name????

  20. She really is beautiful! Glad y'all caught her! There are some chicken diseases that can be dormant and not show any symptoms in the carrier. We had that happen, not sure which new chicken was the carrier, but several chickens of ours got it and died. So, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  21. the black sex links are very pretty. she's a lucky chicken, coming to live with you!

  22. What a great story - with an excellent ending! I'm always taking in stray animals, but no chickens yet. She's a gorgeous chicken, and obviously she's a good egg layer! What a sweetie - hope she gets along with the brood! Keep us posted!

  23. She's very pretty! I am always finding stray dogs but would love to find a chicken.

    Besides the possibility of a disease, it would concern me a bit to introduce a new chicken to my girls because it would probably upset the current calm. I look forward to hearing how the introduction goes.

  24. Love the black Stars! Ours are not laying yet, but soon.... I;m so glad you found her -- she is one lucky clucker!

    ps summer squash is great shredded and frozen in 1 cup amounts in ziploc bags. I love it in soups, and of course cake and bread.

  25. Such a lovely guest..and don't you just love it when they bring presents? lol Good luck with her danni, I hope she acclimates to the flock well. Miss ya girl! <3

  26. Well, ok. You might not want to keep her, and she could be one of OUR first chickens here at "Edgecliff". We could get her two companions, a coop built by your Aunt Alta, and a watchdog named Wolfi.
    Don't you want to know all about "Edgecliff"?

  27. What a great story and super pictures- she really is a cutie!


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