"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
~ Douglas Adams
Saturday, August 09, 2014
On Being Kept by a Chicken
For five days this summer I was kept by a chicken. She showed up in the early morning hours of a late Saturday in June.
I was delivering K-2 school supplies that I have been storing for several years now to my neighbor across the way who is going to be teaching Kindergarten next year. The amount of centers and games I have made over the years, flashcards and worksheets, and themed units I have put together was intense to see all accumulated together. Packing it up and giving it away was admitting to myself that I will not be teaching elementary school, and letting go of that dream. It was realizing that the mandated testing they are imposing on our kids has sucked the fun out of learning and teaching, and that is not the direction I want to take my career, or my life. Giving it to my friend, to give her a start on her first year of Kindergarten, when she has only taught first grade and Title 1, was awesome. I know that my crazy OCD organization and all that time and work I put into those monthly files, and the centers that I used with her son, actually, when he was in first grade, will be a huge help and blessing for her.
I was overdressed for the day, in fleece pants and a hoody, and had my sherpa slippers from LLBean on. I had lugged about six or seven large totes across the street (she lives diagonally across, so it's a bit of a walk), and had one last tote to go. I saved the heaviest bag for last. The one with all the early learning worksheets in it, organized by month, from McMillan. Three kits worth, and it was going to take every last bit of energy that I did not have that day to lug that thing over to her house. I walked into my kitchen, got a glass of water, and sat on a stool at the counter to regroup first. While I was sitting there drinking my water, The Boy rushed through the porch door, into the kitchen and dropped the mail onto the counter. "Do you see what's going on in the back yard?" he asked, breathlessly. I might have gave him a little 'tude as I explained what I had been doing, when a simple no would have sufficed. He told me to go look. I asked if it could wait until I had lugged the last tote across the street, and he said no. I knew he meant business, so I walked across the house and looked out the windows. Nothing. More than annoyed, I asked what the heck I was supposed to be seeing, and he led me out the back door into the yard.
Nothing could have prepared me for the fact that over by the tree line, between our yard and the Town Hall driveway, was a chicken. I turned and stared at him for a long minute. "That's a chicken. Is that a chicken? How do we have a chicken in our yard?" He just stood there and grinned. He was coming back from the dump, and it seems he always looks into our back yard when he turns the corner, and he had seen the chicken. He was hoping she was still there by the time he made it into the house.We watched her for a while, discussing where she could have come from, who she could belong to, and the fact that Troy zoning regulations do not allow chickens in the Village District. Such a dumb rule, and I'm on the Zoning Board, so I feel I can make that statement. I believe that so long as you do not have a rooster, and keep only the amount of birds that fit your lot, or no more than five, it should be allowed. I would keep three, which would be the perfect size for my yard. I see where we could run into trouble, with the apartments, and such, but so long as people were smart, and it was on a case by case basis, or landlord had "no chicken" rules, I don't see what the big deal is.
We figured she would return home by the end of the day, as she was very skittish around us, and put out Cassie's old yard dish full of water for her. We ate lunch at the back table to watch her, entertained to no end by her antics. She was a funny chicken, and our yard is full of beetles, ants and grubs, so I was not worried that she would go hungry. She stayed the whole day, wandering around our yard, never leaving the back, never making any indication that she planned on leaving. I posted a photo of her on Facebook and a funny conversation ensued about where she may have come from and what we were going to do with her. We decided to call her Clara. Around 6:30, she started looking towards the house, and walking back in forth, like she wanted to go inside. She tried to fly up into our bush, unsuccessfully, and we determined she was looking for a place to roost. So much for going home. She ended up in the hedges over next to the Town Hall, and I worried, as she was close to the ground, that a cat would get her.
Bright and early the next morning, she was back in the yard pecking at the ground. That day she decided I was her flock, and she spent the day following me around whenever I went out into the yard. When it was clear she was not leaving, The boy built a ramp and we placed it against the playhouse. We figured if we could get her in there, she would be safe from predators. She roosted in the shaky, thin branches of the shrub outside of the family room window. The next day I went to the police department and had a humorous discussion with them about the chicken. No one was missing her, but they said I could keep her, zoning or no zoning. The boy and I had a long discussion about it, and we decided that even if chickens were something we would like to consider, now was not the time. You cannot keep a single chicken, as they are flock animals, and we called my friend C, who has a flock at her house, and mad arrangements for her to pick the chicken up later in the week. The chicken continued to roost in the flimsy shrub, and on the last day, when I moved the ramp away from the playhouse, finally flew up onto the perch we had built in there. I think maybe she didn't like the ramp.
For five days, I did my school work out in the yard, at the back table. I watched as this funny chicken captured my heart with her quirky ways and entertaining personality. She would come running up the yard like a cat whenever I walked through the back door, and then hang about wherever I happened to be. I spent time working in my gardens, just to watch her, and I was sad on the last day, when I knew she would be leaving. That afternoon it poured buckets, and she stood under the table, in two or three inches of water. When the rain let up some, she came and stood next to the big window in our family room, looking like she wanted to come in, and around 5pm, finally decided to roost in the shrub, earlier than she ever had before. My friend C came around 7:40pm, after she got off work, and we managed to pluck her out, and as fast as she came into my life, she was gone. The next day I purposefully stayed inside all day, and kept finding myself looking out the windows toward the back yard. I don't know if we will actually get chickens next spring, but for five days this summer, I had the pleasure of being owned by one.