Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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: