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Motor City Homestead » Blog Archive » It’s not metaphorical

It’s not metaphorical

I honestly thought everyone who said “chickens can fly” was speaking metaphorically - sure they flap their wings and make big jumps, but the don’t really fly.  Like penguins.  They move their bodies the right way, but don’t achieve lift.  Well, yesterday was a rude awakening to the very literal flight of our chickens.  I’ve taken to calling the hen in the following picture “Runt”.  She’s smaller than the other chickens, and spends a great deal of her time hiding in the corner, and then dashing out squawking to grab a bite of food.  Seems like runt-ish behavior to me.  Here’s a picture of her sitting in the rafters of our garage - which should have been foreshadowing for me.

Runt in rafters

Yesterday, the kids were visiting the hens, I turned my back for an instant and I heard, “A chicken is loose!! A chicken is loose!!”  I turned around to see Runt running (not yet flying) like a bat out of hell for the door of the garage.   I chased her to the side of the house, where she flapped over the fence into our backyard, and promptly ran into the crawlspace under our home.  Thankfully, Gabe felt like climbing in there, so he chased her back out.  From there, it was into the neighbors back yard, into the neighbors front yard, back into the neighbors backyard, and finally she flew to the top of the neighbors garage.  I’ve never been more surprised in my life.  She just took a leap and flapped 10 feet into the air.  Didn’t know they could do that.

She sat there proudly while Gabe and I hucked snowballs at her for 10 minutes, trying to scare her down.  We did manage to scare her, but we scared her up, not down, and she flapped ungracefully into a nearby tree.  The tree was only 15 feet tall, so I jumped on a nearby fence and scaled the tree.  Just as I was about to grab her, she took off and flew - again up, not down - into a tree in our yard.  Here she is, sitting pretty. 

Runt in tree - closeup 

Funny, right?  Not really, because here a better perspective of where she ended up. 

 Runt in tree - full

She’s that little bump on the fork furthest to the right.  At this point, I looked at Amy and said, “Sorry, babe, we only have 5 chickens now.  There’s no way I can get her down.”  Amy looked very sad, so Gabe and I threw snowballs for another 10 minutes, trying to knock her out of the tree, and somehow catch her before she hit the ground.

We did manage to hit her a couple of times, and finally, probably super annoyed at our barage, she took off again.  Thankfully, this time she flew downwards, onto the roof of our house a solid 30 or 40 feet across the yard.  Once again, we threw snowballs (not that it had worked very well so far) and once again, Runt flew down.  This time she ended up in our side yard, and I herded her back into the garage, and back into her pen, where she settled on her roost as if nothing was out of the ordinary.  So friends, chickens CAN fly.  Close the coop door on your way out, please.

51 Responses to “It’s not metaphorical”

  1. joanE mom Says:

    great job chucking the snowballs men. hey we’re coming w/ bacon, you supply the eggs… soon!

  2. mrs. varney-crawford Says:

    hi nathan. how fun for you and you family to have chickens. yes, they do fly - especially the lightweight ones, bantam size. the bigger ones don’t especially “fly” but they can get airborn when you are trying to catch them, heard them or if they don’t want their feet to touch snow. it’s really hard on them if they land on hard surfaces like roof tops, cement, etc. if possible, you mgiht consider putting in a raised bed-type structure in their pen and filling it with shavings, etc. for a soft bedding spot to land when they leave their roosting poles. have fun - it’s a great adventure!

  3. mrs. varney-crawford Says:

    nathan - chickens will go home on their own at dusk. i had one that didn’t stay with the group when they were foraging around the yard and couldn’t be found when i did my headcount after dark. i found her on the roof of the coop, as close to “home” as she could get. and she didn’t try to take off when i went to catch her because they cannot see at night.

  4. Nate Says:

    I’m not sure we can technically have chickens where we live, so I’ve decided to keep them under lock and key. Hopefully at least a few of the neighbors were on vacation when I chased runt all over the neighborhood. Seriously, though, I ‘m building a chickent tractor soon so they have access to grass.

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