‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Monday, February 2, 2009

home, home on the range

We are waiting for a note made of cutout newspaper letters, that says: "Our dog ate your chicken. Sorry."

We accidentally let Mustang Sally out to pasture on Saturday. I never knew what that meant until I had a flock of chickens that we are not interested in eating. Who are already past their prime and will lay fewer eggs each year. The Chicken Bible says to cull the flock, but we cannot do that. Our chickens are cute and never did anything to us.

We let the chickens run around the yard in the afternoons. They have a couple hours of free time before they decide it's time for bed and head back into the coop. They are distinctly happy when they do this. I know it might be hard to envision a happy chicken versus a ho hum chicken, but it's quite evident. And it's not that they are struck with bouts of melancholy when they do not get their time to romp. They just seem to like a bit of adventure from time to time.

Maybe not as much adventure as they had on Saturday. I went to check on them Saturday afternoon and only found two. I called them, and a third chicken came out from beneath the neighbor's boat. No Mustang Sally - except for a small clump of white feathers. Which does not count.

She was a good chicken.

So yesterday, we decided to move the coop into the vegetable garden. That way they can have a little more space to run but are still fenced in. We let the chickens out of the coop and carried it to the garden, on the other side of the house. We were very proud of ourselves until we remembered that chickens have brains the size of a lentil and they would probably end up sleeping on the ground where the coop used to be because they would not look around the corner to find their coop.

Which leads us to, herding chickens. The first one I caught and carried to the garden. I do not spend a lot of time holding my chickens, but let me tell you, once you've caught them they're kind of cute. Serene. Or maybe paralytic with fear. It's hard to tell.

The other two, although not very bright, were onto me. After several attempts at flushing them out of the lilacs, including an episode of going around and around and around a tree, we enlisted the help of the upstairs neighbor.

For anyone out there who does not have friends living with them, I suggest you call around and see if anyone's willing to move in. We do not know what we'd do without our upstairs neighbors. They're a handy lot.

I went down to the garden and kept Sweet Caroline within the now-open fence while the men folk herded Georgia on My Mind and Hot Child in the City across the lawn. Once they saw Caroline, it was much easier because they instinctively tried to reunite. Did I mention that they were using a shovel and a 2 by 4 to extend their reach? They made a big v-shape and kept the chickens within the V. Sort of. They got away several times. The chickens, I mean. Not the upstairs neighbors. We know where the upstairs neighbors live.

This morning the chickens look vaguely euphoric. And as for Mustang Sally, I'm sure she's playing a chicken harp on a cloud, surrounded by vegetable peelings.

She was a good chicken.


TwoBushy said...

Easily the most tragic poultry story I've heard today. Well done.

Kristin said...

Bummer. I am sorry for your loss.

I don't love my chickens as much as you do, and I really want to eat one of the roosters. But I can't get any of the more knowledgeable members of the household to show me how to dispatch a chicken. Could your neighbors help me with that?

Also, what does it say about me that I CAN envision a happy chicken versus a ho hum chicken? Mine are happy right now because I let them out to play in the relatively warm air. Tomorrow they'll be ho hum because they'll be stuck in the coop when it snows. And the next day they'll be righteously pissed off because they're STILL in the coop and it's 12 degrees outside. It's a hard-knock life.

silvergirl said...

I love that you have a chicken named Hot Child in the City. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to steal that name.

I'm sorry for your chicken loss. (I'm wondering if there is a Hallmark card for that. A "rural tragedies" division, perhaps?)

JAbel said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your chicken.I don't think three chickens is enough though.You need to add several more for a big happy chicken family.

Susan said...

TwoBusy - which is saying something.

Kristin - my friend can help you with that. She's quick to mention a rake, a stump and an ax. It gets dicey after that. No pun intended.

silvergirl - rural tragedies division! I can't wait to steal THAT.

jabel - fear not, little flock for it is Murray McMurray's good pleasure to give us more chickens for the kingdom (I ordered new chicks from them a week or so ago.)

Newt said...

I've never even seen a farm, but all my rural friends say chickens are nasty, mean-spirited, soulless little birds, who would peck your eyes out as soon as look at you. Where did you get the charming, musical ones? Trout Towers is a magical place indeed.

Susan said...

Newt - your rural friends maybe need some help on names? That said, as much as they seem to like me, if I lay still for long enough they would eventually peck me to death.

Greg said...

We bow our heads.

; )

Peace Turkey said...

I feel like this post is a good time to reveal a bit of personal information...

My name is Sally. I'm Sally because of the song "Mustang Sally."

I feel a sense of loss for my chicken-namesake-counterpart.

Poor Mustang Sally. I bet she was a good, sassy gal.