Homing, as in fostered chicken …

It wasn’t only a balmy, fragrant night and daughter “chauffeur” that greeted us back home recently. No, indeed. She was still with us: Miss Chick-hen. Orphaned for several weeks, the young hen apparently hadn’t given up on us. There she roosted, high on the carport cupboard, blinking sleepily at us as car lights and the noise of rolling duffels jolted out of her poultry dreams.

“Still here,” said my husband, grinning.

Realizing that we weren’t successful in ditching her with our Mainland disappearing act (as I’d hoped), I gave in and said, “Hello, Miss Chickie,” to which she blinked again, and closed the windows to her pea-sized brain.

To go back to our earlier adoption as parents, or maybe mentors, Miss Chickie inserted herself into our lives in a strange display on a May evening when we sat with friends on the porch. Twilight had fallen when she appeared and hurled herself at the screens. Conversation stopped. All eyes swiveled toward her as she continued this behavior. I picked up a handy broom and banged on the screen, saying, “Shoo!” a few times. She backed off. I sat down. The conversation resumed when Miss Chickie regrouped (can one hen re-group?) and launched attack No. 2, fluttering her wings and emitting a few hoarse squawks as she doubled her efforts against the screen barrier.

“What does she want?” asked a friend, coming close, all the better to observe her ridiculous behavior.

My husband Dee (who might unknowingly be launching a post-retirement career as a chicken-whisperer) exited out the screen door and talked calmly to Miss Chickie. In no time, she hopped up demurely on the patio hose reel, where she settled quietly.

The report was that she probably needed a place to roost. Indeed, our adoptive orphan soon tucked her head under her wing and shrank into a blob of feathers atop the hose reel.

I filed away until later my questions about how to get her out and away from her roost positioned too close for my liking to a living room window, and the evening progressed nicely. True, when we moved indoors, I noted the young hen had awakened, turned herself from east to west, and stretched to full height as she balanced atop the hose reel handle. She was staring intently through the chinks of the blind at us, a real chicken spy.

As our friends left, my husband and a friend each took a turn approaching and stroking Miss Chickie, who roused herself for the moment. She appeared to enjoy the attention, and didn’t budge an inch.

“Well, I never!” (That was me speaking …)

The next morning, Miss Chickie was up and about early from her boudoir perch. Good. I would foil that hen. I dragged the hose reel away from the window to its limit and tipped it over. How awkward it proved to be as I squirted hose water and brushed away her droppings.

But never mind, because when night fell, back came Miss Chickie, and after hopping on the repositioned reel several times, she found it unacceptable. I watched her retreat to the lawn … only to hop back on the patio and flutter up onto a stack of lawn chairs. At least I had covered them with plastic. And hens do need a place to roost, although how safe that was from the neighbor’s night-roving cat, I wasn’t sure. As long as she wasn’t hurling herself at the screens, I would (1) tolerate (ignore) her; (2) eventually right the hose reel; and (3) sweep feathers and hose around the chairs regularly.

This continued for awhile. Then, I was curious to see no sign of Miss Chickie (as far as her bedding down habits went) for a week. She totally ignored me in the garden by day. One evening she pecked and cooed at the front door. Again, the broom and the “Shoo!” She hopped atop Dee’s workbench, sashaying back and forth, stepping daintily between tools and work rags. I snapped some photos of this little charade, wondering if she’d hop onto the hood of my Camry next. It was a relief when she settled into an empty grocery carton balanced on the recycling stacker.

Two days later, box gone, she chose to balance on the handle of the dolly. In retrospect, I never should have booby-trapped that by inserting a rake and long-handled dustpan vertically, because Miss Chickie — maybe in total frustration — decided to fly up. That’s when she discovered the high perch on the carport cupboards. And that’s where she has been since, come nightfall.

I just tried to give her away, offering her via e-mail to a friend whose son keeps chickens for fresh eggs. I figured my chicken-whisperer could trap her and promised delivery. Here’s the reply:

“Thanks Dawn, but after discussion with Chicken Farmer, we’ll have to pass on your hen. We learned that the hens are territorial and it took weeks for older gals to accept the new chicks. Even now, there’s two distinct cliques and the oldest one is definitely Queen and undisputed boss … also the tamest and easily caught to be held.”

So, there you have it. Miss Chickie is about to appear on Craigslist unless, Dear Reader, you are ready and open to fostering her (not stewing in the pot!). She appears to run alone — a real opposite to an eggs-trovert. (Ooh, sorry.)

•••

Editor’s note: Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, regularly instructs on the topics of history and Hawaiian culture for visitors to Kauai through Hawaii Pacific University’s “Road Scholar” program through Pacific Islands Institute. The writer is completing her second memoir, based on her family stories of Burma of pre- and post-World War II times. She continues as owner/principal of TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai under DAWN Enterprises.

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