May 19, 2011 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: Chicken flourishes with newfound feathered friends

By The Spokesman-Review
 

I didn’t think I’d be writing about her again, but here I am doing just that. For all of you who still eagerly ask about her, I am glad to report that Chicken is just fine.

Not only fine, but fat and sassy – still the first to respond to the dinner bell (she always was a lunch mouth) and happily socialized with her new family. I continue to be surprised, and warmed, by the interest in her, even now, many months after she moved to a new home.

Chicken, now called Miss Chicken by her adoptive family, is exactly what her name suggests – a chicken. She appeared in our yard a few days before Christmas in 2009 and remained with us for nearly a year. Well, not just with us, but also with my next door neighbor Marilyn and wherever else she decided to hole up in the neighborhood.

If there is such a thing, she was a feral chicken. She came and went as she pleased, was not remotely interested in being approached and was clever enough to avoid the coyotes and owls in the area who surely viewed her as a potential tasty meal.

The one thing we could count on was that when we put food out for her, which we did daily, she’d appear from wherever she was and scarf it all up. In addition to appropriate chicken feed, she had a fondness for cucumbers, which I carefully cut into tiny bits for her and which she consumed in quantities beyond what I would have thought was her capacity.

And she entertained us with her antics, many of which I chronicled in this column. But as there are no enclosures where I live or really safe places for her, and as predictions for the winter, from which we are now slowly emerging, indicated cold and lots of snow, Marilyn and I decided we should find her a new home.

Many of you offered to take Chicken in. I made arrangements with a lovely lady named Joan in Spokane Valley, and we then set about trying to capture our wild thing. Once that difficult task was accomplished, just before the first snowfall of the season, Chicken went to her new home.

Joan had two dozen chickens, many of whom were rescue birds – found along a roadway or taken in from people who no longer wanted them. Many were past egg-laying age. No matter. There was a place for them at Joan’s home for wayward chickens.

Joan gradually integrated Chicken into the flock with tender forethought and care, the result being that Miss Chicken has abandoned her vagabond ways and is quite content. She enjoys roaming around the yard, is cordial with the other residents, hangs with her BFFs and has fun in the dusting holes. All in all, life is good, though she’s still not thrilled at being held, something which Joan is able to do but which Marilyn and I couldn’t pull off.

She roosts at night with her special pals Jill and Billie, who are large black birds like she is, though they are Americaunas, having a bluish cast to their feathers, while our gal’s feathers have a brownish tint. Although Joan and I have had discussion on the subject, we’re still not sure of Miss Chicken’s pedigree.

There have been changes in the chicken yard over the winter. Libby, an elderly Catalana, died, as did Olive, a black silkie. A new rescue chicken, Ellie, a mixed breed banty from Cheney who had been picked on unmercifully by the other chickens at her former home, has found a safe place with Joan’s flock.

When I visited recently, I noticed some feathers missing from the top of Miss Chicken’s head. There has been drama in the yard, Joan reported. The three roosters – Rodney, Leroy and RB – were all very young last fall. Now not so young, this spring their attentions turned to … well, you know.

Seems that when one rooster wooed a chicken, the other two decided to participate (I’m trying to be polite here), and sometimes it got feisty – and feathers flew, or in Miss Chicken’s case, got plucked out.

Always protective of her flock, Joan put a stop to this and has segregated the gentlemen until they move to the new home she has found for them.

It was good to visit and to see that Chicken was able to transform into Miss Chicken and become a happy member of a flock, which is a good and safe place for a chicken to be. And for old times’ sake, I brought treats with me on my visit – cucumbers, diced small.

And when I left, Joan gave me some eggs. The extra-large ones with a greenish cast to the shells were from Rosie, an Americauna; the medium-sized white ones were from Sparky and Greta, two banties; and the light brown ones were from none other than Miss Chicken herself.

I felt so proud.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached at upwindsailor@comcast.net.

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