Left the house at 7pm, feeling cute and only a touch of preemptive guilt, because getting home before dark was highly unlikely. I’d tell people, “That’s when I turn into a pumpkin,” but really it’s because, since no one else is home this weekend, I have to tuck the chickens in. At sundown, the chickens go to roost and we shut down the coop, to keep the raccoons from getting them.
There I was, sitting in the driver’s seat, and what did I see? A chicken. Crossing the road. But why?!
It was our smallest bird, Alice. And she was following our cat, our King of the Castle, Oscar Fluffalard. Believe me, he didn’t know what was going on either.
He looked at Alice like, “Yeah, I know who you are, but why are you following me?”
Considered shrugging it off, leaving the cat and chicken to go find their way, in peace. After all, it was First Thursday…
But the chicken seemed desperate.
She must need help, I thought. A little peeved, I got back out of the car, herded her into the yard and down along the backside of the house. We were doing fine until we got near the coop. Alice stopped in her tracks.
Bending down to pick her up, I thought, “Wow, maybe she’s ready to let me pick her up!”
This would have been a first.
She darted. Now she was moving quickly, in the opposite direction. I chased her around in circles for a minute, while I still had her somewhat cornered near the entrance of the coop, but she escaped.
Why didn’t she want to go back in? I took one look and had a sinking feeling. A trail of black feathers led me from the hens’ laying box, through the coop, and down to the far side of the chicken run. There was our largest bird, Dia.
In a pile.
Couldn’t take another step closer. Our red bird, Ruby, was nowhere in sight. My stomach turned and I called Violet, who also sounded sick to hear the news. So sad. They were such great chickens, and now all three of them were missing or dead.
It sure put a damper on First Thursday. Everyone was out… One of my gal-pals gave me coordinates to track her down in the Pearl and go from there. Parking the car, it seemed like this could cheer me up. There was music, art, dancing in the street and happy people milling about everywhere… a perfect way to get my mind off the massacre at home. Yet, when I found my friend, it was another jolt entirely.
She was with a “lady” who I quit hanging out with several months ago. Trying my best to put on a smile, I was able to tolerate them for a grand total of 30 minutes before the lady made three, entirely unrelated, yet completely irritating comments. Catching myself on edge, I removed myself from their company.
For the next hour, I had a nice time visiting with the same thousand people you tend to see at every First Thursday. Drinking only water, I made the rounds. Then when it got dark, I headed home to see if there were any (live) chickens back in the coop. I went in, opened the door to the sleeping box and shined a light inside.
There was Ruby.
Perched on the bar, she was nestled there all by herself. Her eyes were open, and she was making quiet noise. She seemed scared, traumatized and lonely. I secured the box and locked up the coop for the night.
It was hard to sleep, but I did have a strange dream: I opened the front door of my house, and Oscar (the cat) burst into the living room, followed by his new friend Alice (the runaway chicken). For some reason Dad was there too, so with the chicken in my arms, full of joy, I handed Dad my camera to take a picture of us. It took a few shots to get the chicken to cooperate, but soon we had a winner. Then I woke up.
It was a bit after dawn. I didn’t want our last remaining chicken, Ruby, to come out of the coop to discover her dead compadre… Since I was awake, I figured I should get the corpse out of there. It had been slightly moved overnight, and half eaten. Ugh.
Then I went to check on Ruby, still locked up, secure in the coop. When I looked in the window, I could not believe my eyes. There was Alice, the runaway chicken, next to Ruby! Inside!
How the heck did she do that?!