There are chickens* penned in my front yard, right next to an apple tree that appeared mysteriously in the middle of the night. Between strays, intentional pets, and now vandalistic landscaping, we’re running a regular petting zoo and small arboretum.
This morning, one flew the coop. It’s not really a coop, but a 4×4 makeshift pen which doesn’t work with the idiom. After an hour of trying to outsmart an eight-week-old chicken, I’ve learned a few things I feel ready to share.
- Chickens poop a lot. Often, in their own food and water. I find this not just a little unsanitary. They especially poop when alarmed by the unintended consequences of flying out of the pen.
- Chickens would rather be in the pen. Except when they are in the pen. Then they would like to be out of the pen.
- Chickens are fast. Faster than me. Don’t laugh. They’re faster than you, too. One cannot chase a chicken and win, unless by winning one means lying on the ground with the chicken still loose after having chased, swiped, and missed by a feather, again.
- There’s a reason they’re called chickens. Chickens are chickens. Easily terrified. And chickens are not very clever when frightened.
- Chickens have a marked advantage in Duck Duck Goose. Period.
- Chickens desperately want to be together. The escaped chicken would not leave the perimeter of the pen because her friend was inside. For an hour, they ran from one side to the other so that they could cheep at each other. And attempt to peck out one another’s eye. Which reminds me . . .
- Hen-pecked is more than a metaphor.
- A chicken’s appetite is greater than her fear. She will continue to peck for food, even as she perceives imminent danger (me) less than a foot away.
- Some chickens only know how to run in one direction. I haven’t tested this hypothesis with more than one chicken, so I cannot say all chickens. But this one chicken I know could only run the pen’s perimeter in one direction.
- When chasing chickens, one could use an empty laundry basket for a net, if one didn’t know there was a handy fish net hanging on the garage wall.