Five dogs and Twenty One Chickens

It was a long moment of chaotic hilarity.

I walked out to give some fruit pieces to my small chicken flock, situated on the grass in an outdoor pen. Five stock dogs ran about as they often do when I’m out and about in the yard. The chicken waterer was empty so I retrieved it from inside the pen and let the pen door sit closed without latching it, after all I’d be right back with fresh water.  The dogs would have to pull the door outwards to open it, so no worries.

The hydrant was in front of the chicken coop, out of sight from the pen. I began filing the waterer and heard an awful chicken squawk. Rooster bothering a hen. Then another squawk, and another, then squawking to beat all heck. I ran back around the corner.

The pen door was swung inward; it takes a considerable pop to make it do so. There was a kelpie inside the pen with chickens, and two kelpies and two border collies running chickens around the outside of the pen. 

I uttered the first thing that came to mind. Well, okay the second thing.

Stand.

Four dogs should at least pause with that cue. The fifth doesn’t have a clue what it means yet. I don’t think any dog heard me.  BJ and Gibson were ganging up on the single remaining chicken in the pen. They pinned him, he hollered and fluttered and was released. They pinned him, he hollered and fluttered and was released, ... I stepped in and caught the chicken.

Back outside the pen I was trying to block dogs and trying to stop dogs. Calling names and uttering stand.

Jayde lay down. Cajun, who incredibly, was calmly working, trying to figure out just which chicken to gather and how he might put things back to order, stood still. Fynn, the normally timid BC who leaves if we raise our voice, was geared right up by all the backup help he had. He flew around the pen, chasing chickens. BJ was encouraged by this and was in hot pursuit but going the opposite direction. Gibson seemed to have found a new thrill and looked a tad overstimulated by it. Sheep and now chickens!

With three dogs still going, chickens scattered every direction, then would miraculously re-group, then be scattered again. They made it to the nearby tall grass and bush and a few disappeared.

Standing with one hand on my hip I wondered if now was the time to laugh. After lunch I had spent a hour and a half searching for and walking cows home through the neighbours crop field, without a single dog along. I was real grumpy about the cows being out and about being by myself and felt the dogs were better left out of it.  From cows and not a single dog, to five dogs and twenty one chickens. I laughed.

In a stroke of good luck, the birds headed right for the pen. All but three made it inside. Those three were run around the pen a few times. Each time around one chicken would make it into the pen.

With the last chicken in, the dogs headed to the bush, still on a chicken rush high. I noticed Cajun was already there. He had discovered a chicken playing dead in the grass and stood over it. Gibson wanted to make it move.  I walked to Cajun and picked up the chicken who promptly screamed. BJ leapt up and down like a Jack Russell Terrier.  I held out the chicken for BJ and Gibson to smell. They shoved noses into the feathers and were enthralled for a moment then both moved back, wearing an expectant look, like they figured I’d put the bird down and continue the fun. Nope.

The last two chickens were still hidden in the brush and were staying quiet. Previous, slightly less chaotic dog and chicken encounters taught me the quickest way to hunt up a chicken in the bush was to let it alone. As soon as the din dies down they emerge and go back to the flock. Much like sheep.

Sure enough, after supper there were two birds cozied up on the outside of the pen.

2 comments:

  1. Too funny! I currently have 30-odd birds, and mostly they stay inside their electric netting (more to keep my dog out - she loves chicken...), but there are a few that persist in being on the wrong side. They're going to new homes!!

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  2. It was funny. I'm sure it would have been funnier to watch.
    This is my first year with chickens. So far they have been pretty easy creatures to look after.

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