Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chasing Chickens

Last weekend, during the downpour, one of the chickens flew over the chicken pen fence into my garden. I managed to herd her back into the pen but it took four or five laps through the garden, around the pen, around the hen house, and back into the garden. She finally darted in the open gate (the rest of the chickens were inside the hen house where it was dry). She was very wet and upset. I understand now where the phrase "mad as a wet hen" comes from.

Yesterday morning as I sat at my desk at work, sipping on my coffee, and scanning my inbox, my cell phone chirped. It was Brett, asking me to call home. The chicken had flown over the fence into the garden almost as soon as he opened the hen house. We decided to leave her in the garden for the day and Brett would herd her back in at dusk, when the rest of the flock retired for the night into the hen house.

Mid-day Brett sent a status report: She's still clucking away. Looking for a way in. If Sedona were here she'd be dead.

Then, at dusk: Tried for ten minutes to get the chicken in. Couldn't get her to go in. Done trying. Going to take a shower.

Followed by: There's no wine open. Need some.

When I got home at 7pm, it was very dark. I changed into my jeans, a sweatshirt, a jacket, gloves and grabbed a flashlight. I walked all through the garden, shining the light into all my fruit trees but didn't see her anywhere. I walked down by the stream bed and out to the dressage court. Two feathers by the garden gate, nothing more.

Laying in bed, I tried to sleep but instead kept thinking about the chicken. What got her? A hawk? Skunk? Raccoon? Why weren't there more feathers? I tried not to care but wasn't too successful.

In the morning as I dressed for work, Brett went out to start the morning chores. Lo and behold, there was the chicken. She ran into the pen and greeted her flock-mates. And she stayed inside today.

Meanwhile, I did a little research. Her breed, the Lakenvelder, is rare -- which is why I bought her. They are small, average layers with little meat on their bones. They are also flighty, active birds. They fly better than average and like to forage far and wide. They are distrustful of people (read hard to catch). They are also more savvy than most chickens about hawks. No wonder they are rare! If you want eggs or meat or a pet they aren't a good choice. If you want a pretty chicken running around your ranch, then they fit the bill. I guess that works for us.

We have two. I've named one of them Amelia and the other Earhart.


  1. When we got our chickens, the guy I bought them from said to clip their wings. Literally get a large pair of scissors and snip the ends of a few feathers from one wing. This makes them lopsided and bad at flying. Maybe you've already done this, but if not, it might help.
    You'll probably find a youtube video on the subject!

  2. You can clip the wing feathers (just the feathers, not the wing) on one wing (only one side) and that will/should keep her from flying over the fence. She's a pretty hen and quite a character it sounds :-).

  3. Amelia and the other Earhart is very beautiful and worth the drinking of wine and fretting:) Hug B

  4. Oh I laughed at the names, how fitting!

  5. When making my selections - I couldn't resist some silver and gold laced Wyandottes. Absolutely beautiful to look at, and reasonable layers.

    Also unfriendly (mean), will tend broodiness I think, and are not the sharpest tools in the box.

    When all the other, wiser girls have returned to roost for the night, invariably one or two of the Wyandottes will be pacing the coop from the outside, mere feet away from the open door - clucking worriedly and wondering why they aren't on the inside.

    My plainer girls are sweet, smart and industrious. :D

  6. I 3rd the notion of clipping the flight feathers on one wing! :)

  7. Send Brett to Walmart for a fish-net, the kind with the long handle that you scoop the fish up out of the water as you pull it towards the boat. This is what I used to catch chickens for 18 years... and yes, I still had to chase a little, but get them up against something and SWOOP... they are caught.

  8. yes, i'd say some wing-clipping is in order!

  9. I'm glad she returned to the flock safe and sound.
    I was given a Lakenvelder hen a year ago from a friend for all the reasons you mentioned. My friend only had 5 chickens, so she wanted friendlier hens. The Lakenvelder fits in well here because we have 18 hens and 1 rooster, so we have a mix and some are friendly and some are not, and I appreciate having different varieties of chickens in the flock.

  10. oh that is funny! Poor Brett fruitlessly chasing a chicken.

  11. please dont clip her wings. let her live a natural chicken life. god gave her wings, dont be the one who clips them because its inconvenient for you. maybe she could do a little supervised roaming, or there could be some more habitat for the chickens. society just moves to limiting animals, wild and domestic, more and more and more. i find it heartbreaking.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.