Who knew a chicken could fly over a barn?

Me: She’s under all this brush. I heard her clucking so I know she’s alive.
The brother-in-law: Ok. Let’s see if she wants to come out.
<reaches into pile of brush, grabs chicken>
The brother-in-law: She’ll calm down.
Me: Does she still have her legs?
The brother-in-law: Yep, still got ’em.
Me: Let’s check her for bite marks.
The brother-in-law: Those holes are called nostrils. They were always there.
Me:  Har. Har. Har.

Ah yes. Christmas on the farm was wonderful. Unfortunately, Dietrich embarrassed himself (and us) upon meeting the chickens and after the family stood in open-mouthed amazement at the flock of birds that flew around the barn and out of sight, despite their clipped wings, we took the dog to the basement and introduced him to the kittens instead. This has proven a far less chaotic relationship.

We didn’t see the chickens for a solid 24 hours after Dietrich’s grand entrance and I’m afraid we owe the mother-in-law a month’s egg supply. I was also afraid that we might owe her an entire new chicken after the birds ventured out of hiding this morning and Dietrich invited himself to recess.

Around the house, around the barn, around the garden, through the picket fence, under the electric fence, across the cow pasture and finally, horrifyingly, into the road went a chicken and so went Dietrich. Some years ago the family had a tragedy involving a loyal puppy and the road at the bottom of the hill, and everyone hollering for Dietrich to come remembered that pup.

Thankfully, traffic was light today and the husband retrieved the dog who was then relegated to the basement, where I’m sure the kittens berated him in their own way. The problem then was that Dietrich had actually caught this chicken–the horrendous squawking and his feather beard gave him away–and I could see a pile of gray feathers on the side of the road as I came down the hill. When I got to the road, the pile was gone. I was relieved to find it in one piece and relatively undamaged, clucking softly from the safety of a brush pile.

One of the young brothers-in-law coaxed her out by the legs and we returned her to her own yard in, thank goodness, one piece. And so ended Chicken Run 2011.

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