The Man is a morning person. One of those really annoying, up before the sun has even thought of rising, chipper, joking, happy to be alive types. I am, by nature, a night person. I used to say that I only liked to see nine o’clock once a day. I used to.
I am now a reluctant morning person. The Man started the job, and the chickens finished it. A few times a week, however, something wonderful happens. The Man gets up obscenely early, as usual, but stays home, either for a few hours, or for the whole day, as today. At sunrise (around 7:30am these days), our Great Dane puppy, Billie, reliably begins to whine in her crate, and, instead of dragging my sorry morning ass downstairs and taking her out (and letting out the chickens at the same time), I can open her crate and cheerfully say “Go find Daddy!”. She trots downstairs, The Man takes her out (and lets out the chickens at the same time), and I go back to my still-warm bed. Ahhhhh. Bliss.
For a few minutes, anyway. As soon as Billie has been out, and has had her breakfast, she will charge up the stairs and launch onto the bed, all 130 pounds of her. Oof.
I was lying in bed this morning, during those precious few minutes, when a question suddenly struck me. Given the events of yesterday, would The Man choose to open the run door and let the chickens out to free range, as per usual? Or would he decide that they were still under house arrest? And, if they were out, how was I going to keep them down on the farm?
They were out. Oy. Keeping an eye on them is turning out to be a full-time job. I’m not so concerned when they stray across the road to the south, as our southern neighbour is a good friend, and no stranger to co-ownership of our pets. Our older, more feral cat will find his way into her basement for the night on those few days a year when he simply refuses to come home, and she feeds both our cats treats on her front doorstep. When we first got the chicks, she joked that they’d eventually find their way to her house, prophetic words, as it turns out.
But, an hour later, they were so deeply into our south-eastern neighbour’s property that they were no longer in the trees, but on the back lawn. Right at the back of the house.
Now, I don’t know these people. The Man does, but he’s lived her over ten years, and I have lived here only three. I know, I know; I should have met them by now, and also our north-eastern neighbours. I will remedy this, I swear. But, in the meantime, which is the greater offense? That my chickens are on their property? Or that I am, in my repeated, seemingly-futile attempts to get them to stay home? Which would you rather see out your window? It’s a tough call. At least I don’t poop on their lawn.
So, I’m on my south-eastern neighbour’s lawn now, in full view of the house, trying to steer the chickens back home. They’re not listening, and are scooting into the treeline to evade me. I am feeling like a world-class dink. And that’s when I heard a masculine voice behind me.
I froze. This was bad. This was the moment I had been dreading. I turned to see the master of the house standing on the back porch, the sliding door ajar.
“They’re eating our ticks!”
Wait…what? It took a full second to realise that he wasn’t angry with me at all. I began a stream of apologies, but he cut me off saying that they didn’t mind at all, as long as the chickens knew how to find their way home.
I have to tell you, it was only then I realised the weight of concern I had been carrying over this whole thing. If they didn’t care, and, in fact, liked having the chickens there to eat their ticks (which chickens do most proficiently, and our tick problem this year is a horror story), then I could, at last, relax a bit.
Yes, the chickens would be in greater danger. There’s crossing the road, for starters, and also stray dogs, over which we have much less control off our property, obviously. But (halleluia!), my chickens aren’t pissing off the neighbours.
It was a lovely human exchange, one I won’t soon forget. Our neighbours will be getting a dozen eggs, STAT.