Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Awhile back we talked about distractions, well you mostly sat and nodded while I prattled on about choosing something to divert my attention. I also promised to tell you other riveting tales from the fall. This time, grab your snacks, I have a little something about the distraction that chose me...kind of...for the most part. Let's go with it!

Life in the fall had little specks of normal sprinkled here and there. The girl went back to college, fall foliage was a thing, my birthday was approaching to show that time was not actually standing still, and one of our favorite autumn activities was allowed to happen - apple picking for the win. It was a good day at one of my happy places.

We came home loaded up on crisp juicy apples, donuts and fritters. What a lovely distraction! Suddenly I was distracted from the peacefulness this distraction had brought by my husband's exclamation. Oh boy, he was gazing out toward his bird feeders. I wondered just how big the cardinal/goldfinch/chickadee/squirrel could be as I slowly approached him, while trying to sort my face into some kind of arrangement that would hopefully read "interested". What the...
...mother clucker was this?! We do not live in an area where chickens casually wander by, so there was no real sense that she was going to be wandering back home either. I figured I could file this under "not my problem" and walked away. When I did check back in a very little while later, the trespasser was still there. I headed next door to the neighbors who usually know things to see what I could find out about our feathered friend. They had seen her wander over earlier while we were off galavanting in the orchard. All this did was confirm that she had not taken an Uber. She was welcome to enjoy the sunshine and whatever seed the squirrels had knocked to the ground. For some reason, she did cross the road at some point, but then for some other unknown reason, she crossed back! (You didn't honestly think we were getting out of this without a joke like that, did you?)
At some point the neighbors let the chicken seek refuge in their garage from a hawk that was looking for a snack. Was it a chicken hawk? I like to think so, and also that it talked in the same way that Foghorn Leghorn's nemesis did. It was late in the afternoon when we all met up again. My aunt had come over for dinner and, knowing what a fan she was of Drinking With Chickens on Instagram (check it out for fabulous photos and libations), she was going to need a photo op. Back into our yard came Parm (that name won out over Nugget and Divan)...
...and this was as intimate and fancy as we were willing to get.

Somehow I nearly forgot, but I suppose I should mention how much I started flipping out about this chicken's well-being as the temperature was cooling off and darkness was approaching. I made a return to facebook in order to make a "lost chicken" post. I texted friends who I thought would have easy solutions or invite Parm to join their flocks. I called animal control, saying brilliant things like "she seems very tame and must belong to someone", and was basically told that nobody was going to care about our low cost to replace friend. There was a woman who would take Parm if I didn't find another home. IF I DIDN'T FIND ANOTHER HOME?!?! Like I had droves of folks lined up outside?! The stipulation was that I needed to provide transportation. AS IN WRANGLE THE CHICKEN INTO MY VEHICLE?!?! No deal! The woman next door had made a post on some neighborhood site, so hopefully someone would reach out. Nobody else in the house had ruffled feathers, but I was convinced that this mother clucker's well-being was my responsibility. I didn't have issue with a circle of life type of scenario, but preferred that it not take place, or worse yet, leave remnants of taking place in my front yard. I tried a "hide in the house and hope it goes away" strategy for a little while, but asked anyone who walked near the front of the house for an update. My daughter's response at one point was to show me this video she took.
Glad my husband closed the grill! (Don't worry, we heard plenty of dinner jokes.) Certainly that mishap would send her on her way? The next update I got though was that she was next to my husband. I tried to correct my daughter by suggesting Parm was just somewhere near him?
Nope. She was a personal space invader! It was getting dark and I had people to feed, and this distraction was not helping me at all. What was I going to do?
Parm had no worries, and may have disagreed with our opinion that the office chair that was defective, not terribly comfortable and needed to be discarded.
See how it's getting dark outside there, and how Parm was not aware of social graces and overstaying one's welcome? Am sure you can guess what happened next. The garage door got closed, light on, with tins of water and food put out...and I continued to panic. She was checked on numerous times, and was unphased by any of it.

The following morning, having no idea what scene to expect but figuring Parm would be eager to get on her way, I waited for everyone to be up to say their goodbyes before opening the garage door. She had a lot to say and really made her feelings known.
Another sunny day, a fresh start, certainly Parm had places to go and new folks to meet. That is what I said, and believed for two seconds until my daughter uttered "You gave her food, water and a place to stay. Where's she going? This is her home now." Oh. No. 

But wait! My neighbor had a response from someone missing their small black and white chicken! Surely they would be arriving any moment...or not. Everyone carried on with her/his day, aside from the one of us who was on high alert waiting for the not so chicken hearted owners to arrive. What if she wandered off again before they got here? She did go for a stroll at one point, so the garage door was closed and maybe I managed to eat lunch or something equally productive. Aaaand then she came back, and she was thirsty.
She literally came running for the water when I put it down. I was pretty sure she would get a move on once she was rehydrated, so I went back inside.
Did I need a chicken? Was I losing my mind? She was at the front door you guys! A little while later I looked outside to see Parm hauling tail feather up the yard toward our house as she must have been spooked by the dog that was out for a walk. She was hiding in the landscaping right up against our house. My daughter was packing up the car to head back to school after apple picking weekend, and there I was, hopelessly distracted and moderately enchanted, clinging to whatever I could, be it a chicken or the last shred of my sanity.

After the car pulled away, I was left standing in the driveway trying to formulate a plan because darkness and cold were eventually going to come again that day too and I was not interested in any garage squatters. I decided to take a short drive to see if I could spot any yards in the surrounding area with chicken coops in them. Looking back, this does not seem like a sound plan, but I truly thought I had seen chickens wandering around about a mile away and had no sense of how far chickens typically walk in a day. I asked one woman who was out walking her dog if she knew of anyone who had chickens and she responded with a level of fear in her voice suggesting I was trying to give her a chicken. No luck. No surprise. Upon my return home, I struck up a conversation with another neighbor and was bemoaning how the owners who had been in contact through our other neighbor's post hadn't shown up. She figured out that she could pinpoint the location of their home on the neighbors website. How far gone was I? Would the sound of jingling car keys give you a hint?

Off I went to look for Parm's surely distraught owners. I got to the house, saw no chickens and did not like the scenario that played out in my head in which I rang the doorbell. I turned the car around to head home. On the way, I saw someone outside and asked them if they knew anyone nearby with chickens. I got something like a definite maybe. I realized I had limited choices to fix the situation waiting at home for me, so I turned the car around again. As I was approaching the house, an oncoming truck was waiting to turn into the driveway. What luck! So there I was trying to let him turn into his driveway while also trying to yell out the window that I had his chicken. Totally normal. He wanted me to pass first which luckily gave me the opportunity to stop gesticulating wildly and just use my words to tell him I thought I had his chicken. He pulled into his driveway and I turned my car around again, pulling to the side of the road to wait while he herded all of the chickens that came out to greet him to his backyard away from the road. He said they were missing a small black and white chicken. I told him the one at my house was chicken-sized. I think he was as impressed with my description as you are imagining. I showed him a photo on my phone, and was crestfallen to hear that Parm was too big to be his. I said "but do you want this chicken to be your chicken?" He said he could take it and hold it for a couple of days and give it back to the owners if they showed up. AGAIN WITH THE OWNERS SHOWING UP?! 

We then proceeded with the perfectly logical plan of this stranger following me to my house to get a chicken that wasn't his chicken. Luckily many neighbors were out when our abbreviated caravan pulled up. Parm was still hiding in the tall plants. My new friend tried to just walk over to get Parm, but she hadn't had time to get to know him so she was chicken and hid deeper in the landscaping. I got the old dog crate for the man to position wherever he saw fit. There were five of us sort of closing a circle around Parm and into the crate she went. He reached in and confidently grabbed her in some sort of football hold that I am sure is appropriate for chicken wrangling. He seemed impressed by her, but I had no false sense of pride to take. He mentioned again that he would return the chicken to its owners if they showed up within a couple of days, and I just kept making sure to reiterate that she was his chicken now either way. With a wave, they left. 

I missed something about her presence immediately once she was gone. She sent me this pillow cover soon after as a thank you gift for our hospitality.
Then she sent me this for my birthday.
Cheers everyone! Thanks for reading, and remember, we don't always get to choose the bright shiny thing that distracts us...and don't ask why the chicken crossed the road unless you want to be the answer.


  1. Well, this was a great distraction from all the current political wrangling. Who gives a cluck? Seriously. But that book - Free-range cock tails. Fantastic!

  2. I LOVE THIS STORY. I would have handled this the same way. I love animals so much that any stray that lands in my yard is MINE and I have trouble letting go. I let go, but you know what I mean.
    The way Parm was "helping" your husband grill? She wanted to be part of your family! I'm not helping, am I?

  3. THIS IS HILARIOUS. Sorry for yelling, but I giggled and smile all the way through. Wishing Parm a great life in her new home or her old home if those people show up. Thanks for this distraction.

  4. Wow! Just wow! What a chicken you are about a chicken . . . no, that doesn't seem right. Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk! I've never had a chicken show up at my house. Many years ago when I lived in Washington state, sometimes several peacocks would break out of jail and go for a walk in the neighborhood. But the peacocks simply strolled past my house. They didn't ask to stay. Thanks for sharing a great story.