Hen: Over Easy

She will be called Houdini.

The Prodigal Chicken, after 48 hours without a trace of feathers or carcass that we expected to find in the tall pasture grass or along the trails, showed up late afternoon Saturday. How she survived and where, we’ll never know.

She even consented, with some frenetic herding with flailing arms and hiking sticks, to be guided back into the chicken pen, now with a new porous roof of cattle panels and flexible green garden fence.

Apparently, the roofing is not Houdini-proof. For a second time, we don’t know how, she flew the coop. For a second time, we found her out in the jungle of uncut hay, and again managed to corral her and contain her.

Houdini has now spent two nights in the chicken house since we brought her and two pen-mates home on Thursday.

This morning, from the original two hens, the one we thought was a hen mounted Houdini in a rooster-like way.

Maybe our two original “hens” are “hims” instead.

I’m ready for those “free” eggs that are supposed to warrant these jail-breaks and abuses and foot-miles we are suffering for poultry’s sake.

I confess I was glad to see Houdini reappear. But let her escape a third time, we may see if duct tape and a cinder block are within her skill-set.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Now, that tale sounds almost as tall as the one you spun last week about that orange salamander! (BTW, how about a photo of you in that Bugshirt. Allen’s request!)

  2. It’s always amazed me how wild turkeys survive in “the wild”. They look so helpless against predators. Yes they can fly and roost but spend most of the time on the ground like your friend Houdini. Perhaps “the wild” isn’t as wild as we imagine it to be.