"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our chickens are not free. Well, they are somewhat free. We don't have them in cages. They can walk about as they please. Our coop has two rooms to it so they can strut around and go in and out. They lay their eggs wherever they want to. However, they are fenced in. The fence protects them. Keeps them from the soup pots of such wily critters as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and chocolate labs. I've been telling them lately that the fence is their friend. They do not believe me. They have been demanding their freedom.
Our chickens have been flying the coop. Escaping their fence. I think they long to be free. Perhaps they are worried about chicken pot pie, and chicken noodle soup. They have reason to worry. When their days of laying eggs are behind them they are headed for such a fate. I don't deny it, neither am I ashamed of it. They are after all, chickens.
Almost every day a chicken will fly over the fence and one of the kids, or someone who has stopped by will say something like, "Do you know that there is a chicken out? The dog is chewing on it."
Kelli returned from cross country practice one afternoon and said she thought a chicken was in the shed as Holly (our chocolate lab) was over there acting stranger than usual. I sighed. Grabbed my shoes and set off. Ms. Hen, ironically, had found herself in our old run-down shed, tucked into the middle of a roll of chicken wire. She couldn't move. She was wedged in too tightly. Holly was standing guard at the end of the roll of wire. Waiting. "Come. Come to me. I want to eat you." I struggled with Holly to get her convinced to stay in the garage, retrieved the roll of wire, hefted it over to the coop, unrolled it while giving the chicken the ride of it's life, got to the place where I could grab it, and then threw Ms. Hen back behind her dreaded fence. She was safe and sound and in one piece.
Kelli came in the next afternoon and said, "I think Holly is after a chicken. She's over by the wood pile and she won't move." I sighed. Grabbed my shoes, and headed out. I investigated the wood pile but could not figure out what Holly was after. I didn't see a chicken. Suddenly, I heard a squawk. It was in there somewhere. After more sighing, and a few not so kind words to the dog, I found the crazy chicken. It was a brown hen and tucked inside a hollow piece of wood. My eyes had a hard time seeing it. Holly was on it. She couldn't get to the bird but she was willing to wait for it to move. I grabbed it, held it up over my head as it squawked and fought me in my attempt to keep Holly from eating it. Holly barked, jumped, begged me to give her the chicken. I returned the hen to her prison where it was safe. I was not pleased.
Yesterday, a friend stopped by to pick up some eggs. When she came to the door she announced that Holly was chasing a chicken. I sighed. Grabbed my shoes and joined in the chase. Holly and I went after that silly, but protected, if it chose to be bird, until finally I was able to grab it and not so gently, throw it back behind her fence.
I'm growing weary of my role as the oppressor. I'm growing weary of the demands of my feathered oppressed. If they keep this up their destiny of pot pie and noodle soup may come sooner than they think.
We will see what today brings.