“Uh oh,” said Sara, “The chickens have escaped.”
We were on our way to run an errand, and we saw that there were chickens wandering in the road. We had a pretty good idea where they came from, since we know there are some chickens kept in a building nearby who occasionally make an appearance at the farmer’s market.
I sighed. I was somewhat inclined to just say, “Huh, that’s interesting,” and keep going, but I knew I wasn’t going to do that. If I had chickens that needed wrangling, I’d certainly appreciate it if someone wrangled them. So I jumped out of the car and went to look for somebody.
The gate was open, so I could certainly see how the chickens got out. But after calling, “Hello?” a few times, nobody seemed to be around. I knocked on a few doors and even tried around the corner, but there just didn’t seem to be anybody about. At this point I again considered just cutting my losses and leaving. Surely I had done enough, and more than some would have. But I was also fairly sure that if I didn’t wrangle those chickens, nobody was going to wrangle them.
I took a run at the chickens and they sort of moved in the right direction. I probably could have picked them up, but I’m not exactly trained in it, and one time in West Virginia I saw a kid with the unlikely name of “Chicken Boy” almost lose an eye to a chicken scratch from one of his own chickens. And his name was Chicken Boy for christsakes, so I kind of thought the people would probably rather I didn’t try.
Luckily for me, I have a lot of experience herding my cat into areas she doesn’t want to go to (especially opening the bathroom door in the morning without letting her out to go wake up the kids), and this was kind of the same. Both the chickens and the cat have this same thing where they sort of pretend they just happened to decide to go in the direction you chased them of their own accord, but then try to veer to one side or the other with a wounded pride and hope you’ve suddenly forgotten about them.
I also made a few, “Ha!” and “chuck chuck chuck” sounds at them, and also sort of talked to them. I’m not sure if that helped or not, but it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. In any case, they all started moving in the right direction. I think they probably just thought, “Oh my god, some kind of weirdo is out here shouting at chickens! Lets get back inside before something bad happens!”, but whatever the reason, I felt unreasonably proud once I got them all in the yard, like a cowboy after a long day of ropin’ steers (but not like a Chicken Boy, because I also had both my eyes).
As I was just closing the gate, I saw someone emerge from the building. “Hello?” I called, and the man turned to me. He said something like, “Yeaup,” and waved. “Your chickens escaped! I put them back in for you!” I said, beaming with pride. “Yeaup,” he answered, waving his hand again.
I don’t know if he didn’t understand me or what, but I kind of felt like I deserved a little more than a non-committal “yeaup”. A thank you perhaps, or at least a concerned look on his face or something.
Oh well. Just a day in the life of an urban chicken wrangler. We don’t do it for the respect, ma’am, that’s just our job.
::slow walk into the sunset::