Last night was one of those nights - you know the nights where you just shake your head and wonder if other people experience such weirdness in their own lives…
I had just put the boys in the bath and let the dogs out for a run in the backyard. Our obedient Shepherd barked to let me know it was time to let them back inside and I obliged. However, Saffie was not with him. This isn't highly unusual since she is prone to loping around the yard in search of mischief, but I hadn't fed them yet and since food is her priority, it was weird not to be bowled over as she dashed past me into the kitchen.
I decided to do a quick jog around the yard while calling her name and whistling madly, which always gets her attention.
I started to get a bit concerned that somehow she'd wiggled her tubby body under the fence and escaped from the back yard. Our fence line is very secure, but that seemed like the only viable option since she's not the type of dog who could ever scale a 6-foot privacy fence.
Finally I walked around to the corner of the yard and called her and she appeared out of nowhere looking very guilty with something orange on her nose and her mouth. My first thought "GAH! She's eaten an orange kitty!" As she ran over I saw that this orange stuff stuck on her nose wasn't fur, but was feathers.
She bolted from me back to the corner of the yard and I saw a mess of orange feathers there on the grass.
Next to the feathers I saw an orange lump wedged flat against the grass pinned toward the bottom of the fence. Oh man. It was a chicken, and not one of my girls, but obviously one of my Korean neighbor's chickens. And it was missing a lot of tail and back feathers. I could see from her underdeveloped comb and wattles that she was a young pullet - not of egg-laying age yet.
Saffie continued to nip at the poor thing so I grabbed her by her scruff and ran back into the house with her and tossed her into her crate. Then I grabbed the camera and headed back outside to rescue the terrified chicken.
The poor thing was panting and shivering and had a bloody bald spot on her back where her feathers were torn out. I was torn between being glad that Saffie's first instinct wasn't immediately killing and eating the chicken - and being slightly disappointed that she chose hurt it at all.
I picked her up and petted her and then realized I had no idea what to do with this thing. I ran around in circles a few times hoping to get inspired, but nothing jumped out at me. I set her down on the grass to see if she could walk, and she could stand, but was too shocked to move at all. Then I thought I should toss her over the fence back into the neighbor's yard, but she was in shock and I imagined her falling 6 feet to the ground and thudding into an injured, bloody lump on the grass and that didn't seem like the best idea.
So I ran onto our screened-in patio and put her there while I got the boys into their pajamas and tried to figure out what to do with the chicken. I told them what happened and that we'd have to wrap the chicken in a towel and drive her to the neighbor's house (since trotting around in the dark with a wrapped-up chicken and two little boys in PJs didn't appeal to me).
We went on the patio to get her and she was gone. Of course she was. A totally screened in patio and no chicken. The three of us searched for a good 10 minutes and found her inside a roll of art paper in the boys' easel.
We wrapped her in a towel and got in the car - me with the chicken on my lap - both boys giddy about the whole experience.
(Awesome photo taken by two small boys fighting over one cell phone camera - and yes, I'm appropriately wearing a chicken tshirt).
I pulled into the neighbor's driveway and told them the story. They were very thankful to have her back, but didn't seem as concerned as I would have been, which is fine because my chickens are family pets and their chickens are simply egg producers. I don't think they name their chickens, but I can tell they still like and respect them. The neighbor didn't seem very concerned over the missing feathers and bloody back either since she said that the chickens peck each other from time to time too, but again, different chicken-owner relationship at their house. She thanked me profusely and we left.