Clucks and Ducks

A Cooptastrophe!

The weather here has been absolutely terrible this week. Lots of storms and wind, with the occasional tornado watch nearby. My office doesn’t have a window, so I often don’t even realize the extent of what’s going on outside. Sometimes, if I hear rain pounding on the roof of the building, I’ll walk out to the lobby to check things out. Most of the time, however, I’m so engrossed in work that I’m kind of oblivious to what’s happening around me.

Today, I could hear the wind and rain, so I realized there was a storm brewing, but it didn’t seem so bad those few times I walked to a window to check things out. I saw photos of nearby towns in my newsfeed and also knew that the town where I work had dismissed school early. Those should have been my clues that the storm was worse than I feared. It wasn’t until my mom called to let me know that my chickens were running around the yard that I fully understood just how strong the winds were.

My chickens live in an enclosure. There are just too many predators where we live to allow them to free range. They have a spacious house as well as the attached lot where they can eat, scratch for bugs, and do chicken things. I allow them out to eat grass and weeds from time to time, but only when supervised. Even with those precautions, I’ve still lost a few birds to raccoons and other predators.

My mom called me right before my workday was over to let me know that I needed to pick up dinner because the power was out…and that the chickens and ducks were on the loose. Panic quickly ensued. Most people would probably think, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of dumb chickens. I’ll get new ones.” Not me. I kind of wanted to cry.

I know I’m overly attached, but chickens are smart. Like any pet, each one has their own personality and quirks. Lucille is the hen that I always argue with because she follows me around, clucking and being a nuisance. She’s so loud! I’m sure the neighbors probably hear me yelling at her from time to time, telling her to hush. Sami is a broody demon that always races to the gate when she sees me coming. And Midnight is my senior duck that enjoys dandelion greens and a nice swim.

I hurried home, happy to find only one chicken and two ducks in the yard. The others were, thankfully, hiding in the hen house, terrified by the storm. When I went into the enclosure, they came barreling out to greet me, no doubt hoping I had some sort of leafy green treat for them.

The back corner of the lot was completely destroyed. I quickly found an old tarp to cover the open space at the bottom, hoping to prevent them from escaping. Thankfully, Sami, the hen that was loose, followed me right back inside. That left two lady ducks outside, prowling around the yard with their gypsy boyfriend.

Sherman is a male duck that showed up about a year ago. Initially, I thought he was a stray that someone had dumped on the creek near our house. I tried to catch him, but he’s a shifty little fellow. When he flew into the yard one day, however, I realized that he’s actually a wild duck. (Large breed domestic ducks are too big to fly.) He shows up each day to flirt with the lady ducks through the fence and get a free meal.

It was kind of funny to watch him prancing around the yard, his harem following closely behind. The escapees were Jumbo Pekins, which are large and slow. I was pretty sure we could catch them, as long as they didn’t venture over the hill or into the woods. I sprinkled a trail of feed leading into the enclosure and they followed it right inside. Success!

Except then, as I was putting the tarp up, the door blew open and they ran out again! My dad was outside the coop, however, and was able to get them back inside fairly easily.

The ladies were sad to be separated from their boyfriend.

This was definitely not how I wanted to spend my evening after a long day at work. I am grateful, however, that none of the birds ran off or were injured when the tree fell. If it had fallen in a different direction, it would have gotten the hen house and my dad’s storage building as well.

The fallen tree is massive.

My dad helped me secure the tarp so no one could escape and I allowed them out  in the chicken lot until almost dark. For tonight, they’re all shut into the hen house. (I normally don’t close them in because the ducks like prowl at night and sleep all day.) I’ll let them back out in the morning just after sunrise. Tomorrow, my dad will be working to cut away the tree and fix the damage.

I can’t handle this much excitement on a Wednesday!