Life with my part-time backyard residents is moving along. Going out every morning with a cup of chicken feed and a cup filled with a variety of goodies I happen to pick up for them is now routine. It touches my heart to have them come rushing out from the blackberry brambles and ivy when they hear me calling them.
Listening to their clucking murmurs and watching them graciously enjoy my offerings fills me with such a simple happiness; I could not imagine my life without these special critters.
My next-door neighbor is almost as enchanted with them as I am. I hear her talking to them as she goes about her day. She and I do the “talk by the fence” neighbor thing you see in sitcoms. We mull over whom they really belong to and why they keep coming to my yard.
Well, it’s obvious why they’re in my yard dawn to dusk — I feed them. Good, yummy things. Just as a stray cat keeps coming back when he knows there’s food to be found, so do the chickens. But, the chickens aren’t necessarily strays. I know they’re coming from a house on the next street through a small space in the fence.
The mystery of their real owner is a puzzle for me and my neighbor. Recently retired, my red-haired neighbor is also a character you’d see on a sitcom. Super chatty to the point of talking the paint off walls, she means well but can often be, annoying. She is also what you would expect a recently retired, chatty neighbor to be — nosy. And a nosy, talkative neighbor was just what I needed to help find the origins of my new feathered friends.
Another plus to Chatty Cherry (as I will call her) is she has a little fu-fu make of dog that she walks around the neighborhood several times a day. She seems to know everyone and everything that’s going on in the vicinity of her dog-walking outings.
Most houses in the neighborhood were built in the early to mid 1900s, so it’s a charming mix of older homes on patchwork lots abutting each other in a twisted assortment. That made figuring out my chickens’ original home exceptionally challenging.
Chatty reports back to me her findings. A new arrival to the neighbor next to the house where the hens are coming from knows nothing; the neighbors on the other side went off about disliking how the city even allows people to keep chickens at all . . . Yikes . . . note to self: don’t talk to them, ever!
Now, you might be thinking: why not go to the house itself? Well, the house whose yard the chickens are coming from is a rental, not well-kept, and a tad scary. Chatty Cherry has never been able to confirm who (or what) lives there; no one is ever home, hence her chatting with everyone surrounding the home.
A few days ago, I was out trying to plow the hayfield known as my yard, struggling with my old, cantankerous mower and fast-growing wet grass when another of my neighbors happened by. All the neighbors tend to be a bit eclectic, just like the mismatched medley plots of land we live on. This particular neighbor is a musician, (on warm summer nights, you can hear him singing and thumping away pleasantly on a drum set). So this very urbanite gentleman, his curly locks flowing and his clothing earthy, comes strutting down the sidewalk toting a recycled bag filled to overflowing with organic veggies. He stops to say Hey, how’s it going, and to help me re-start the sputtering mower. We exchange pleasantries and I ask him about the chickens.
In a mellow, slightly stoned manner, he tells me the folks in the house on the corner had given the chickens to the guy in the rental home when they moved. I asked him if he knew the rental-house guys, and he shrugged and moved on down the road, singing to a song in his head.
For the most part I am content with my newly expanded part-time family, whatever their origins. The chickens give me solace and a break throughout my days. Sometimes I go outside to watch them peck, scratch and hunt worms, and before I know it an hour has passed. Extremely busy with 3 to 4 assorted part-time jobs, I don’t have a lot of time to sleuth out their background, however curious I might be.
For now, Cherry is on the case. It’s good for her; she has an interesting new project to occupy her mind, which gives her day purpose and a reason on her walks to talk someone’s head off.