Thursday, October 18, 2012

The chicken crossed the road to get another pancake


I have been saying for years that I want to live on a farm. First there was the hedgehog, now it’s livestock! I didn’t realize how soon I’d get my wish – sort of. We live on a cul-de-sac that has Council allotments right across the road from our block of flats. We’ve seen people come and go from them a lot and I’ve seen the pen on the other side of the fence where a group of chickens and a rooster were staying. I loved the sound that rooster made once in a while too. Made me feel like I was back in Ohio.

On Sunday Steve noticed a stray chicken wandering up and down the sidewalk on the other side of the fence where the allotment with the chicken pen was. He tried to call the RSPCA who gave him an automated response that said to call Animal Welfare. I figured the allotment owner, whomever he/she may be, would arrive back on Monday morning and get the chicken back home on the other side of the fence.

I noticed the silly thing was out there on Monday but didn’t think much of it. Surely the allotment owners would come back soon. Wednesday rolled around and sure enough, that chicken was still wandering back and forth in the same place. I don’t think anyone is coming to get it.

I looked up Animal Welfare and didn’t get any kind of local information except that I should call my local authority if livestock is found injured or sick. I decided to call the Animal Health Officer who flat out said, “There’s nothing you can do about an abandoned chicken.” Great. I was given a number, of course, to contact the person in charge of the Council allotments but no one would answer the phone (no voicemail option either.) I tried calling a local farm that is open to the public for tours and such. No answer. I even walked down the path that leads to the allotment where she came from and all the other chickens (including the rooster) are gone. My guess is that whoever was renting that out, took the ones they could catch and left the poor chicken.

So I decided to try and lure her into Jake’s carrier that he used when he flew over to England with me. Now, I use to live in rural conditions and it’s been a long time since I was anywhere near chickens, turkeys and the like. I have no idea how to reason with a chicken, catch it, feed it, house it, or even make friends with it (though my mother, a former farm girl herself, assures me it can be done.)

All I could do today was give Henrietta (yes, I named her) some left over scotch pancakes and let her hang out where she is. She wanted no part of that carrier, despite my putting pancakes into it. She did, however, cross the street and poked around the front of the flats after I went inside. Maybe she will end up trusting me and she’ll follow me to the back yard. But since we’re at this block of flats we have no where to keep her really. I thought even if I got her in the back garden, she could walk around off the street (I should have named her Roxanne) but the garden runs into the garages and the parking lot where she could get out and go right back to the road. Plus, knowing my fabulous overseers, I’m sure they’d throw up some kind of issue with a loose chicken roaming in the back yard. And chicken coops are pricey!

I sent in an application to rent one of the allotments across the street (I had no idea they weren’t over £100 a year to rent a large garden area.) If we get one of those, I’ll put her in one. Until then, I’ll feed her and keep and eye on her. She sleeps next to the fence in the bushes but we’re worried about her getting hit by a car, eaten by a cat, of frozen by cold weather.

Maybe I can make her a house. I always said I had no need for Pinterest. Maybe now’s the time to try and make it useful! It seems like such a pain and I have no where to really put her unless I make some kind of pen where it won’t bother anyone. Who knew an abandoned chicken was so much work?

This morning, Henrietta was out in front of the flats, stalking one of the neighbours as he was getting in his car to go to work. No doubt she was looking for more pancakes. I put my coat and slippers on and headed out there to give her a packet of dry oatmeal for her breakfast. I even patted her but she squawked about so I left her alone. Right before my driving instructor showed up for my lesson, the guy who owns the allotments where the chickens were kept, showed up to rescue Henrietta. All he had to do was call to her and she followed him down the path and back to her house. I’m glad she’s back where she belongs and I can visit her whenever I want.

Makes me want to have chickens now though. It would be nice to have eggs from my own garden.


  1. What a lovely story! As someone who is lucky enough to live somewhere I can keep chickens, I'd really appreciate it if one of mine escaped and was cared for as well as you cared for Henrietta. Although, as you discovered, hens are cannier than people give them credit for.
    I hope the owner gave you some eggs.

    1. Thanks! How nice of you! No, I didn't have a chance to even chat with the owner since he was leaving as I was getting into my driving lesson car. I had no idea how apt they were to finding their way back home or to a friendly person. I'm really keen on having some of our own chickens now. Seems like fun!

  2. We've had chickens and the eggs are so much better than the supermarket. They make nice pets too :)