It’s weird. You never see a poster tacked up on a light pole with:
“MISSING! Large Hen. Black and white stripes.
Answers to “Lucky”. Owners heartbroken. REWARD!”
Although I grew up with dogs and rabbits and birds and turtles and guinea pigs, chickens are just obviously the pet of choice.
They are self grooming, cuddly, colorful, and they eat your kitchen scraps and leftovers.
They roost at night. All by themselves.
And they give you eggs for breakfast.
Many times, we’ve had hens in our large backyard, and they roamed free during the day, gobbling up bugs and visiting with the neighbors through the fence. They came running when we called them and followed us around like puppies, begging for treats.
They never went rogue and so long as we remembered to close the henhouse every evening, things were fine.
Our phone did ring at 2am once. The little old lady next door was calling to report that one of our hens was being eaten by a fox…right under her bedroom window.
This was a new one. We’ve had possums and skunks and raccoons and coyotes and weasels in town before. It was almost worth losing a hen to see a fox.
One afternoon I watched out the window as a huge red-tailed hawk swooped down at the hens. It pulled up at the last minute and landed on the ground next to them. The hens and the hawk were the same size, and the hawk realized after several minutes of deep and desperate thought that he would never be able to carry one away.
The stare-down ended when the hawk flew off.
Our hens always did have a little attitude after that.
Once in a while, the kids were allowed to dabble in other pets.
We had hamsters that escaped regularly. I didn’t really grudge them their freedom. Less things I had to clean. They would eventually return after a couple of days to their little hamster palaces.
Except the one who set up shop sandwiched between the kitchen countertop and the dishwasher.
It’s startling when you reach to open the dishwasher door and whiskers are sticking out over the handle.
You scream, leap backwards and drop your fine china.
And exactly why a pet reptile or tarantula will never happen.
My sister was having the same issues with her children; small pets that were fun for a week, then just one more thing to take care of once the kids were bored.
She came by for a visit once and disappeared for ten minutes.
Blending back into the house of kids and chaos with a sneaky smile on her face, she mentioned that they no longer had the two tiny pet mice her kids had picked out a month ago.
“Oh really?” I asked, “Did they escape? You should check your dishwasher.”
She frowned a little as she poured coffee.
“Well,” she replied, “I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to find them.”
She sipped cheerfully then. “On the other hand, you have some really high protein eggs coming in this week.”
Yeah. Eew. Chickens are carnivores.
Glad she didn’t need to get rid of a turtle.