when the chickens come home to roost

I know you’ve heard it before. Everyone says it. But this time, I’m telling the truth. I have the smartest chickens ever. And not just smart, but brave…or perhaps stupid. Probably just really hungry.

Shall I start at the beginning?

The HenriettasMy three ladies…I call them the Henriettas because they remind me of three very proper Victorian ladies in their neck-high black dresses and black bonnets. They run here and there across the yard, always together, as if they are really just one single unit…one big chicken with three heads.

We’ve been working diligently in training the Henriettas to “free range” in the yard without a fence, while also teaching the dogs to share the space without dining on fresh chicken.

The girls…the Henriettas…wander the yard in the day and head back to their coop as night falls. This has worked out perfectly for the past week. Oh, there was one little incident where Indiana Jones, the mastiff, chased one of the chickens around the house to the front porch windowsil, where she had to be rescued and carried back to the rear yard. Completely unscathed, I might add. But otherwise, the transition has gone off without a hitch.

Fast forward to tonight.

All day long, the Henriettas watched people go in and out of the house through the kitchen door, and the cat via the open window. I brought them bread and fed them from the back porch. They lingered at the bottom of the steps for a while, watching me through the window as I cooked (careful to avoid using chicken), and snacked on chips.

It wasn’t long before I heard a tap…tap…tap on the window behind me. I turned to look and to my surprise, all three chickens were standing on the windowsil, tapping to get my attention.

I swear I wasn’t cooking chicken!

Ok, I did have several loaves of very nice bread sitting out where they could be seen. And chickens LOVE bread.

I went outside and tossed a few pieces of raisin bread to the ladies and went back to my cooking.


They were back. This time, more insistent, and bread wasn’t cutting it. I wasn’t sure what they wanted. It was beginning to get dark, so I shooed them toward their coop and marched back to the kitchen to finish my foraging.

I was digging around the refrigerator for something to drink when I heard it. It was a familar sound, but certainly not one I was used to hearing from inside the kitchen.


Holy crap!

I spun around to see my chicken…one of my precious Henriettas…standing in the middle of the kitchen table. She looked at me as if it was an every day thing to have a chicken in the kitchen…I mean…a live chicken in the kitchen.

I admit it. I screamed. And not because I was scared. I wasn’t. I screamed because the dog was in the kitchen with me, and the chicken was tipping over the glasses and vases, and other assorted things people had left on the table, not expecting a chicken to be wandering around up there. And the dog was reaching (and he’s really big, so it’s not much of a reach) to see if he could grab the chicken. Even the dog knew chickens didn’t belong in the kitchen.

No one came running when I screamed. No one came to help me wrestle the dog, or rescue the chicken. I had giant flapping wings tipping things over everywhere and a big drooling dog pushing me out of the way. But I managed to grab my phone to snap a few pictures…because who would have believed me otherwise?

It took me a few minutes to remove the chicken from the kitchen. I had to put the dog in the other room, and carry the chicken outside, and then shoo all three Henriettas into their coop for the night. I’m sort of looking forward to tomorrow. I can’t wait to see if it was a fluke, or if the chickens suddenly think they should live in the house like everyone else. I can’t blame them…but I don’t think I’ll indulge them either. You just have to draw the line somewhere!

Until the next time…I’ll be baking bread and pulling feathers out of my hair!

Copyright © 2000-2018, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.
Posted on May 19, 2012 .