I met someone who had chickens and arranged to get some. Did I tell my neighbours? Well, no….
Dorothy and Orrin lived next door. They could not see the area where we put the chicken coop. Dorothy heard chickens and told Orrin. He suggested she was losing it. The next morning, she heard them again. Quietly she crept out of bed, walked around the corner in nightgown, robe and slippers, stole into our yard and confirmed it.
“I’m not crazy Orrin! The Kauffmanns DO have chickens,” she was delighted to have to wake him up to tell him. Nor did they bother her, she loved the sound — Dorothy had been raised on a farm.
Chickens aren’t that noisy without a rooster, but if Dorothy heard them, others would too. What to do? The neighbours received occasional visits from me with an offering of a fresh, warm egg enclosed in my hands. A shameless bribe? Perhaps, but — no one reported us.
We had a six-foot high chain-link fence installed to enclose the chickens, which you would think sufficient.
Still, one of them was super athletic and had wanderlust. It would climb onto the roof of the coop, jump over the fence and out into the street to freedom.
Any animal turning up in our neighbourhood ended up at the Kauffmann’s. Either it was ours to begin with, or we would take it in — our neighbours knew that. Thus, when our errant chicken ended up having lunch across the street in a neighbour’s back garden, they dialed our number. The children were at school, we adults at work, except for my French husband’s elderly aunt, Germaine, who was visiting from Paris. Germaine spoke no English. How they managed to convey to her that one of our chickens was destroying their flowers remains a mystery.
Courageously, Germaine trapsed over there and attempted to catch the chicken, which was having too much fun to want to be caught. It ran away again and again until it ended up on the side of the neighbours’ house facing our street. Notre tante was exhausted. What to do? Perhaps if she went back with a large tablecloth, she might throw it over the creature and catch it that way.
Another neighbour, seeing Germaine through her window, decided the elderly woman had gone bonkers. Picture it. This neighbour, too far away to spot the chicken, could only see poor Germaine running around on someone else’s property waving a tablecloth in the air. She thought that rather strange. Still, it worked. Our aunt caught the chicken! She definitely needed and deserved a nap after her exertions that day. She slept like a baby.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” the heavens opened and it poured – hard. Through the noisy rainstorm I heard terrified screeching and scuffling and so braved the elements to investigate. My dad, always a man of action, followed right behind me.
I had never seen a live raccoon before. Certainly not in Los Angeles. It was beautiful. The animal stood its ground, one of my chickens firmly clenched between its teeth. I was mesmerized, unable to move. But not my dad. He grabbed a broom, pushed me aside and shouted: “Outta da vay. Outta da vay!”
Then, running toward the startled creature: “Let go my chicken, you bloody bestid!!!” (All in his Lithuanian accent.) He continued to hurl the broom and invectives at the poor raccoon. (Dad knew more curse words than I ever imagined!) No match for dad’s onslaught, the animal dropped the chicken, rapidly scaled the six-foot fence and fled off into the night.
The frightened chickens scattered. Rain running down my face, clothes drenched, I worked at getting my meandering darlings to locked-up safety. One was missing. “Here chick, chick,” I called, tossing food about trying to tempt her back. Hair matted, summer dress clinging, I finally gave up and retreated into the house.
Later loud chicken noises convinced me the missing bird had been the raccoon’s dinner after all. Oh, well….
As can happen in L.A., the next morning the sun shone brilliantly as we breakfasted. “Hey, isn’t that our
chicken coming down the hill?” Rafi asked, staring out the window, cereal spoon half-way to his mouth.
Indeed. Exhausted by its adventure, feathers and skin torn from its back, there was the weary chicken, painfully, slowly walking down the middle of the road. The children ran out to scoop it up gently in their arms. Our garage was quickly converted into a chicken hospital where the creature received special attention and care. The feathers never grew back, but that chicken (like my scarf, see Dec/13) was not yet ready to leave us and came home to roost!
P.S: And what happened to the chickens in the end. I think Susan, who was in charge of cleaning the chicken coop, woke up in tears one night. Chickens have lice. Who knew? Lice were crawling down her arms. We could not bear to eat our hens, so we gave them away to someone who didn’t mind doing so.