Earlier this week, we’d just finished dinner and I was sitting on the sofa (probably being tortured by a Sasquatch program that Tom insists on watching).   I glanced out at the chickens, who were in their run, scratching for invisible scratch and chasing invisible bugs.  I think some of the leaves that fall into the run have hallucinogens in them.  Anyway, everything appeared to fine and they were busily involved with their usual pre-Chicken Bedtime nonsense.

In between making fun of whatever Tom was watching and wanting to stab myself during locally produced commercials (you wouldn’t believe how bad the commercials are here…every used car dealer thinks his kids should do the commercials for the dealership…it drives me INSANE), I’d glance out at the run just to make sure the flock was still behaving and hadn’t tried to saw their way out of the run to get at a single piece of chickweed that was just out of their reach.

square eggs and iBack to the chickens.  They were standing together at the side of the run looking a bit tall and skinny which usually means that one of them has uttered “THE DANGER SOUND”.   They do it all the time.  They’re the chickens who cried wolf.  One of them make that “BUH-BUCK!!!!” sound and the rest freeze in place with their necks so extended that they look like bowling pins with beaks.  I always look around and never see anything, which brings me back to my suspicion that those leaves they’re eating from whatever tree that is could make me some money if I ever wanted to quit my job and become a drug lord.

I looked around at the yard that I could see from my vantage point on the sofa and everything looked just peachy.  I looked back at the run and if possible, I think those chickens were even taller and skinnier and more bowling pinnish.  Then I noticed a flash of an orange tail and I realized that Wally, our elderly, n’er-do-well cat that lives in Tom’s shop (also known as our three car garage…which rarely sees a car because the place is jammed with theatre scenery), was probably out on one of his evening walk-abouts and despite being a cat, he really isn’t that interested in the chickens.  Wally is terminally lazy and actually lays down to eat his cat food.  Getting into the chicken run and chasing one of them down is NOT on his list of things to do.  Lying on the floor eating cat food and knocking tools off tables are the only things on his list to do…and sleep.  He’s a card carrying member of the Professional Cat Sleepers Guild.

So I really wasn’t too worried.

I watched a little more of the hillbillies screaming about Sasquatch (“IT’S A SQUATCH!!!”) and glanced out the window again.  The chickens had gotten even taller and skinnier and were all standing together in a group watching something.  I saw the flash of orange again.  Damn that Wally.  I’ve been trying to convince Tom for years that Wally needs to go live in another country and I’ve even offered to box him up and ship him somewhere…I’d even go so far as to poke holes in the box.  He must be laying on the sidewalk in front of the run…either that or leaves were making the chickens have a really bad trip.


Um.  The flash looked bigger than Wally.  I squinted so that I could see better.  A tail was barely exposed from behind one of the boxwood bushes.  It looked a bit…fluffy.  I glanced at the chickens in the run and they appeared absolutely frozen in place and were staring.

Then the visitor revealed itself.

A fox.  A red fox.  It stood on the sidewalk next to the run, panting and staring at the chickens.  It looked over its shoulder at the house and then back at the chickens.  The chickens stood frozen in place with their necks fully extended.  The fox switched its tail and stared at them.  Its coat was light and scruffy looking, its tail resembled an orange bottle brush.  It was probably the size of a mid sized dog, but very thin.  Very thin.  It stood there regarding the chickens and I don’t remember any more than that because I screamed,


And thundered across the room, down the stairs to the foyer, through the two car garage, and down the path to the where the chickens were.

I don’t think my feet ever touched the ground.  As a general rule, I don’t move too fast.  Our laundry room is on the entrance level of the house, and if I have to walk down the eight steps to the foyer to go to the laundry room, I have to think about it for an hour before I actually do it.  When I realized that the visitor was a FOX, I moved faster than I move when someone says “Hey…there’s a chocolate cake in the kitchen”.

And that’s pretty fast.

When I got to the run, there was no sign of the fox.  There are woods, a pond, an open field, it could have gone anywhere.  The chickens were still standing there looking stunned, except for Vinnie who thought there might be a snack about to be dispersed.  I checked around the pool, around the coop, and around the run.  There was no sign that it had tried to get in.  The chickens settled down and I threw them some scratch to keep them busy because Vin’s constant chortling for treats was getting to be a bit bothersome.

Tom appeared on the path from the house and I ranted about foxes and coops and chickens and fence and foxes and chickens and foxes and chickens.  He checked around a little bit and declared the area fox free…for the time being.

We’ve known that there is a family of foxes living in the woods that border the side of our property.  Occasionally, prior to the chickens moving in, we’d see the male and female come out of the woods and trot through our neighbor’s yard on their way to do fox business.  Earlier this spring, we were out on the deck enjoying a warm evening and we heard the yips of the kits and the louder yaps of the adults echoing through the ravine that leads to the pond.  They were very close.  Another evening, I was outside picking weeds for the chickens near the edge of the woods and heard a noise.  I looked into the woods and glimpsed a red/orange flash.  I took a few steps closer and could see the fox kits playing on the other side of the ravine while one of the parents watched from a distance.  Greg had stumbled across their den when he was searching the woods for morel mushrooms and said that the area around it was littered with animal bones.

They now obviously know about the chickens.  I know that they’ll come back.  I’ve checked the run over and over again to be sure that they’ve not started to dig a hole or push through the fencing.  I don’t think they could, but I know that I’m also naïve about the ways of foxes and the stories that I’ve read from other chicken keepers about foxes taking members of their flock in broad daylight make me terrified for my own little flock of ten.

So there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that the chickens remain unscathed and their coop is very secure.  The bad news is…we’ve got hungry foxes in the area…and foxes love them some chicken.  The bad news for the foxes is…I love me some chickens too and apparently I can run pretty fast when the situation calls for it.

Don’t underestimate this  soon-to-be 50 year old, foxes.  I may be afraid of a quarter sized spider, but I am NOT afraid to make you into a fox stole…so see what you can do about that shabby fur.  I want to look FABULOUS if I end up having to make you into a new wardrobe piece.


I one of those people who spends the whole week thinking about ALLLLLL the things I’m going to get done over the weekend.  While sitting in my deprivation chamber (office) all week, I come up with all kinds of grand ideas about cleaning out cabinets, organizing things and building elaborate ponds with fountains and koi in the backyard in a spot where we currently can’t get grass to grow.  I will promise myself a jillion times that THIS WEEKEND is going to be THE weekend to be productive.  All week I detail my grand schemes to my husband who usually just answers “okay”.  It’s not because he’s really all that agreeable.  It’s because he knows me.

Saturday mornings typically go like this. I’m the first one awake…or…well, maybe “awake” is too generous of a word.  How about, I’m the first one out of bed…that’s a bit more accurate. Yesterday,  I got up, scuffed out to the chicken coop in my pajamas and initiated the chicken stampede…which just means I let them out of their coop.  Remember that scene from “The Lion King” where Simba’s father gets trampled by the water buffalo stampede?  It’s pretty much like that.  How 12 chickens can make their feet hit the ground that many times that they sound like 1200 chickens is completely beyond me.  I just shook my head and scuffed back to the house while they scoured the run for snacks that might have appeared overnight.

I had planned to be REALLY productive this weekend.  Laundry, cooking, a little cleaning, some baking, chicken coop decorating, oh the list was long and impressive.  The weather was PERFECT and Tom had even called an equipment rental place to rent a large tiller to do the garden!!  I just figured I’d get that puppy planted too.  That sounds reasonable, right?  (NO)

When I got back to the house, Tom was still in bed, so I surfed around the internet, visited a favorite chicken site and swooned over cute chick pictures, drank some coffee and oh look!  The Today Show is on!  So I reasoned that since no one else was awake and there was coffee and Lester Holt, that I should just sit on the sofa.

Greg came stumbling in from his apartment behind the house and collapsed in a chair like it was the longest walk he’d ever taken…it’s about 40 feet or so.  At some point, after me making 53 trips to the bed and announcing what time it was, like a brunette version of Big Ben, Tom finally came out of the bedroom and sleep walked down the stairs to walk his mother’s dog (he’s the bane of my existence…the dog…not Tom).  Tom’s mother lives in another part of the house, on the lower level.   I was still drinking coffee, so I was still moderately happy.  As long as I have a cup of coffee in front of me, I’m pretty much stationary and content.

Tom finally finished walking all the dogs…I haven’t told you about the dogs yet….oh, my….that’s another story for another day altogether. He made himself a cup of coffee, sat down on the love seat and promptly fell asleep…or resumed sleeping…because I don’t think he ever woke up while he was walking the herd of dogs that we own that he calls “The Idiots”.

By this time, I was finished with  my coffee and had decided that it was time to do things.  Greg was draped over the overstuffed chair playing some sort of online game where you basically attack other people and steal their stuff…sort of like an animated version of living in Detroit.

Tom was snoring.  Which always makes me mad.  So I told him what time it was again.

“I wasn’t sleeping”

“You are SNORING.  You’re either sleeping or you’ve got something REALLY BIG caught in your nose”

“I’m going to get up in just a minute”

Okay…take that conversation and just repeat it 94 times.  Because that’s what always happens.  Tom used to tour with rock bands when he was younger.  Motley Crue, Aerosmith…you know…all those little quiet bands.  He learned to sleep through mayhem on tour buses or while leaning against a running air compressor in the middle of a crowded concert venue.  The guy can sleep through a box of C4 going off next to his head, I swear.  I finally got him semi conscious and drinking some coffee annnnnnnnd then he fell asleep several times holding his coffee.  I ranted and carried on…Greg kept playing his game…Tom kept snoring.  I kept getting more annoying.  It was pretty much a typical Saturday.

FINALLY, Tom got up off the sofa (read as: I griped until he got up off the sofa) at about 11:00.  I’d already decided that there was no way we could possibly get ANYTHING done because the day was half over.  Then Tom said those magic words that had started this whole chicken journey.

“We need to go to Rural King today.”

Suddenly, he’d redeemed himself.  If we were going to Rural King, that means we were getting more chicken and garden stuff because honestly, there isn’t much else there that I’d walk across the street for in the store.  Greg, on the other hand, got very excited because, remember, Rural King has free popcorn…and he apparently doesn’t mind that it’s made by a woman with a mustache.

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So we all piled into the truck and Rural King isn’t that far away so we were there pretty quickly.  I hadn’t even bothered to look at what I was wearing, until we were walking into the store and that’s when I noticed I had on my t-shirt that proclaims “CRAZY BUT FUN” across the front.

Fifty years old, people.  I am wearing a “CRAZY BUT FUN” t-shirt, in public, at 50 years old.

Greg and I always enjoy the parking lot at Rural King because there is a wide variety of things to be sarcastic about…which is our main gig.  One day, at the Rural King on the other side of town (there are two…who needs two? ), we were in the parking lot where a very nice church group had set up a grill and were selling the following:  Grilled Boneless Chicken, Grilled Boneless Pork Chops, and at the bottom of the sign, and I’m not making this up, Grilled Boneless Hotdogs.   I’m also not kidding when I say that this provided us with comedy material for the next several weeks.

Greg bypassed the popcorn area when we first arrived because there were a few too many people in line that were wearing camouflage and looked a bit surly.  I made my usual beeline to the CHICK NIRVANA waiting in the back of the store.  Tom was pulling a loud, rickety red flat cart behind him because we needed shavings for the coop.  I’m sure you could hear this cart in SPACE.

The chick area was kind of a drag.  You can tell that the people who work at the store are OVER IT.  At the beginning of chick season, everything was sparkly and clean and the chicks were tiny and healthy.  Now the stock tanks of chicks smelled badly of chick poop, they were terribly over crowed and the chicks were older and already sprouting their wing feathers.  Sort of sad.  I wished I could save them all and finally sadly walked away.  Poor things.

We got what we needed, including a bag of “Mother Clucker” chicken treats…pretty much because I think the name is hysterical. Next time I’m buying “CLUCK YEAH!”.  I also, thanks to my chicken decor radar, found an adorable metal welcome sign with a chicken on the top of it, that you stick in the ground.  SCORE.  It has a bell on it too…because I always look for opportunities to provide the neighborhood with noise, apparently.  Greg walked up happily eating a bag of popcorn and we paid and were on our way.

We ran a few other errands and now the day was REALLY trashed in my opinion and all I would be able to get done was possibly bake a batch of cookies.  Once I decide that I can’t get anything done…I’m done.  In other words, don’t look for any spectacular movement because I’ll probably be drinking a soda and writing blog post or staring vacantly at Pinterest for ideas about things that I should actually be doing.

I finally decided that I would check the chickens who were out in their run bemoaning the lack of edible weeds, which they mowed down completely in about two days and which refuse to grow back.  Greg showed up a few minutes later as I was trying to placate the chickens with handfuls of clover and chickweed.  Greg said, “We should free range today!”

Hm.  I wasn’t too sure about that idea.  We’ve got foxes that live in the woods and hawk screams are frequent in the sky above our yard.  Shoot, I won’t even take my three-pound chihuahua outside because I’m afraid she’ll get sucked into some sort of hawk vortex that will instantly form in the sky the moment she sets a paw off the back step.  Greg, started trying to get Vinnie, the Barred Rock, into the coop so that he could snatch him up and take him out into the big yard…the big unprotected yard…with neighboring foxes…and swooping dangerousness.  I reminded him that I’m OLD and that he better be able to catch whoever he decided to bring out.  Pretty soon he emerged from the coop with Vinnie under his arm, who was whistling and chortling because obviously, something very exciting was about to happen.

Tom was out in the “garden” (orange staked square of untilled grass) making final calculations and probably doing long division and figuring some sort of trajectory that involved square roots and quadratic equations.  Greg and I headed that way with Vinnie, where Greg set him unceremoniously down on the ground in a patch of clover.

Vinnie got very tall and I think his neck was about a foot long.  Tallest, skinniest necked chicken, you’ve ever seen.  He tried to take in everything at once, made a weak attempt at flying and crashed into the ground, and finally settled down to explore the huge open yard.  I think he was a little confused about where all the other chickens were, but interest in clover and other green snacks pretty soon caused him to care LESS where the other chickens were.  He explored the grass, insinuated himself into a big pile of branches that were lying at the edge of the woods (this when we started to talk like the crocodile hunter guy describing the natural habitat of the “WILD BUSH CHICKEN”), and then Vinnie seemed to get bored with it all and waddled back up to the area near the run where the rest of the chickens were eyeing him with mild panic.  He pecked at our walkway which is made of composite stone and must have looked like scattered seeds to him and then he looked at us like “well, that was good…now what”.


I scooped him up and feeling much relieved, deposited him back in the coop on a roost.  The rest of the chickens rushed into the coop to get the full story from him.  At this point, Greg scooped up Oprah Wingfrey, one of the Black Sex-Link pullets and headed back for the open yard.  As head chicken supervisor, I followed, wondering why he always seemed to pick the NICE chickens to put out as hawk snacks.

Greg set Oprah down.  She looked around and realized this was NOT the chicken run and started to HONK.  It was a cross between a raspy peep and a poorly formed cluck.  To calm her down a little, we sat down on the ground in the grass to show her all of the wonders she could find in the clover.  There was some worm eating (by her…not us), some clover nibbling, some pecking at Greg’s cell phone, more clover nibbling and some picture-taking.  It was a perfect afternoon to sit in the dappled sunlight and play with a chicken.  Honestly, how many times have you heard those words in a sentence?


We finally got up and started walking back to the coop and run area with Oprah following like a puppy and grabbing beakfulls of particularly tasty weeds along the way.  I scooped her up, introduced her to our outside cat, Wally…who looked at me like “WHAT is THAT?”…and put her back in the coop where she too was greeted by the entire flock.  We watched them for a bit and returned to the house.  It was time to start dinner.

So, basically, I got nothing done yesterday.  I have to say though…BEST. SATURDAY. EVER.




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