|Chicken pot pie ready to bake|
Having free-range chickens has it's drawbacks. Oh sure, the perks are nice. They eat bugs all over the property. Specifically, they've scratched up all the scorpion breeding-grounds next to the house, so we haven't seen a scorpion in 6 months. That's priceless.
The drawbacks are...well....interesting.
I mean other than the random chicken 'fertilizer' left generously on our sidewalks and patios. Since the chickens are free-range, they have access to everything. Yup, everything.
One day Daniel forgot to close the van door. I didn't notice until several hours later. When I went outside to fix the problem, I discovered our van filled with a dozen chickens. They were roosting on head rests or squatting on the floor, with feathers all fluffed up and warm. They actually looked pretty cozy (and I don't blame them for choosing the plush comforts of my leather seats over the sparse accomadations of the chicken coop). In the front seat sat our rooster, Pavaratti. (Honestly, I laughed out loud when I saw him in the front seat, trying to peer over the steering wheel to see out the window.)
It was a trick trying to get them all our of the van, and they sure protested loudly at their eviction. Somehow the stars aligned in my favor and there wasn't a single spot of fecal matter left in my van, just a couple stray feathers. Thank goodness!
Another time we came home from running errands and found the door wide open. Our dog, clever thing that she is, has figured out how to open our door all by herself. Now she can conveniently let herself in whenever she's tired of playing outside. That means more than once she's left the door ajar, and the chickens decided to also make themselves at home. We came home to quite a scene.
Picture the mess left the morning after a crazy sorority party. Now imagine the sorority is the sisterhood of chickens. That's what I thought when I saw the scene. They had partied hard in every room. Luckily, somehow the stars aligned yet again (is that even possible twice in one lifetime?) and we didn't have any feces anywhere other than easy-to-clean tile.
Last week we came home from church to our door open again (darn that dog!). We cleared out all the chickens, but then we heard a rooster crow.
From under my bed.
Nathan lifted up the bed and the boys and I all tried to catch the rooster. Unfortunately he is the most skittish bird in our flock, so of course he dodged our efforts and hid in the farthest corner, out of reach. We finally managed to catch him and toss him safely outside.
Now the flock has learned that our door doesn't latch very well, so they try to push it open on their own. Today we had chicken invaders three times! Each time I chased them out, they gathered on the front step, peeking into the windows while they stood all in a row.
It looks pretty funny, but in my mind I hear them saying to each other, "Just wait a few more minutes until she finishes her meal and leaves the room, then we'll have our chance! First one to the highchair gets the baby's cheerios!"
(Editor's update: Life is ironic. Yesterday I had typed this post up and saved it for further editing. That very day, Daniel left the van door open -again!- and the chickens spent the day in there. Their muddy feet stepped on everything and the stars were not in my favor. I spent over an hour scrubbing fecal matter off my van seats! ERG!
The best part of this experience was the fact that I discovered the mess as I was heading out to pick up children from school. There was no time to clean it before picking up kindergartners, so all I could do was gingerly lay newspapers atop the fecal matter and instruct the horrified children to sit very carefully on the paper. We pulled into a gas station and I cleaned everything out before heading home. I keep telling my kids they now have very unique stories to tell their own kids about growing up in the country. Thank goodness I can laugh about it all....isn't life just crazy sometimes?)