Red October – A Community Minded, Free-Range Chicken

The little red hen pictured in the banner photo was only with us for a week or so. She eventually took off over the fence before I could clip her wing. She took shelter a couple of houses up in a building site over the winter. We crept in one afternoon to find a pile of chicken shit on a stack of bricks and figured she’d been roosting there during the night.
We came back that evening with a torch and a towel and quietly crept down the back of the house to find her there perched on the top of the bricks somewhat bemused by our presence on such a cool night. I gave her a good eye-full of torch light before turning it off, hoping that it would give her some temporary blindness. I moved up next to her and prepared the towel for capture. With samurai sense she took off blindly into the night and over the neighbour’s fence. We approached our neighbour’s house in hot pursuit.
Our neighbour’s at the time were a newly immigrated English couple who were quite well accustomed to our regularly adventurous pets. We tracked down the little red hen and she took off into a tree  at the edge of our garden. With the neighbour’s permission I scaled the fence and found the hen in the top of the tree. I prepared for capture. Like a bat out of hell she took off again into the dark night and flew about 20 metres into the next street over a house roof, navigated around a street light in a sweeping curve and carried on another 10 or so metres to a group of trees situated in the next block.
This, to me, was all at once:
  1. Impressive: for such a small hen to have flown that distance at night and with some accuracy.
  2. Annoying: for now we had to widen our search and risk disrupting other neighbouring folk.
  3. Perplexing: that such a new hen could not have settled in our lovely yard like all the other chooks we’ve bought in.
We immediately aborted the mission and went inside. Thanking the neighbours for their assistance.
Some time passed and we could both hear our hen and had sightings of her in our street a couple of houses down. We have been identified as the people responsible for releasing this savvy, worldly-wise hen onto the neighbourhood where she now struts her stuff and supplies eggs to a lady down the road whenever she is able to locate the current nesting area.
Clearly, Red October, as she came to be known has out-witted both cats and dogs, kids and cars, and has been adopted as a feral pet by numerous neighbours who sometimes courteously share with us some of the antics of this hen that could not be tamed, nor hunted down.

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