The Hen

» September 8th, 2013

It’s training season for long runners in the ATX and I ran 20 miles (and change) yesterday morning (ultra marathon coming up in November). Before my run I ate my standard piece of whole wheat toast slathered with a sliced banana, apricot jam, and nutritional yeast.

This did the trick as my energy level never flagged during the run, which we did at talking pace. To recover, I had a kale/mint/turmeric/banana smoothie from Juiceland made by Bryce (on right) and a soft whole wheat taco with faro, chia seeds, avocado, hemp seeds, and lentils. The recovery, assisted by a 30-minute nap, was immediate. Was able to swim laps with ease later in the day and, this morning, do eight more miles, again slowly, on the Greenbelt. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I could never do any of this before going vegan.

Then I met friends, running buddies, for a beer. A delicious pint of local beer. We drank our local beer, we admired the woodwork (longleaf pine), we appreciated the table that held our beer aloft (live oak wood), and we talked about, well, running, and we made running plans. I had to leave a little early and, as I hopped on my bike, a squall came out of nowhere. I began to ride. White clouds crowded out the blue sky (pic above), layers of gray formed in the distance, and winds of 40 mph flew in from the south to turn the intersection where I rode into a swirling dustbowl.

I pedaled off in a mild panic as this little weather event unfolded. It’s hard to explain (it always is) but it was if a mini tornado had exploded in the ten square feet around me. The gusts, which had been channelled into a funnel by the loft high rises around me, were strong enough to almost blow me off my bike. I veered without meaning to veer very close to a row of parked cars.  Dust covered my eyes and as I pedaled down the middle of the street into the teeth of the gale and a rock the size of a blueberry landed in my mouth. I spat it out and, as I did, I found myself staring down at an impossibly beautiful speckled hen.

I thought she was an apparition. But she was real—an escapee, no doubt, from the land of the locavores– and she seemed scared. We locked eyes for a moment, as if we were both saying what the hell are we doing here and then she skittered under a parked car.  I envisioned placing her in my saddlebag and riding home, but then began to wonder how my dogs would react. In any case, I got off my bike to take a look, peeked under the car, and she was gone.


13 Responses to The Hen

  1. Eric says:

    Great little yarn for a Sunday morning. Thank you for that and for all you do to promote compassion and empathy among God’s creatures.

  2. John T. Maher says:

    Some Texas Flood music from Stevie Ray Vaughn to set the mood: (Actually not my idea of the Texas sound — prefer 13th Floor Elevators).

    So yes some critters do not wish to be rescued. We have all tried and failed. Caught a second escaped hen from a vivero slaughterhouse a few months ago by throwing my suit jacket over her. I am thankful I have friends who have a flock of rescued chickens (they do not slaughter them) who took her in as my dogs would surely eat her if they could. She looked to be a burned out CAFO egglayer who needed a non-terrifying place to spend her final days. Still there are those who got away and that is fine if that is what they wanted.

    I don’t this this blog post was about compassion or god or Sundays but a meditation on interspecies interventions by those who have so much and wish to live happy human lives which includes interspecies interactions and its is this responsibility, passionate or dispassionate that matters. In “No Mercy” Redmond O’Hanlon writes of paying his guides in Kongo who then bought a guinea hen. “Kill her quickly for she is beautiful” he said to them. Sometimes that is responsibility. Thanks for trying JMC. There will be other critters.

  3. Pauline says:

    That’s a sad tale, as I cannot see how that poor hen will last long, having been enclosed all her life. Some predator or other will surely get her if a car doesn’t. I should imagine complete bewilderment and terror made her scarper, rather than a will not to be rescued. Oh well, at least she escaped a more certain, imminent and cruel end. And, thank you for stopping to look for her.

    • Mountain says:

      I wouldn’t be quite so pessimistic. Her odds aren’t good, but her imminent end isn’t a sure thing. By the looks of her, she clearly wasn’t a factory bird, so she’s had at least some exposure to the outside world. Many owners keep chickens cooped up except when the owner is around, but others let them out all day. Some even let them roost outside at night. There’s even a tiny chance she wasn’t even lost or escaped– she may roam freely around the neighborhood by day, and return to her roost at night. As far as her seeming scared, it was probably due to unusual surroundings, but it could have been as simple as the weather.

  4. Layne says:

    Pauline, your reaction is mine. Having had three beautiful white hens rescued enroute from battery factory to slaughterhouse for almost two years, I know how almost impossible it is to catch one, even when she knows and trusts you. James, I know that if only you could have caught her you would have found a good home for her.

    By the way, my cat, although he tried to attack the hens at first, now knows that they are part of the family. (Even so, I don’t leave them alone in the same room.:-)

    • Mountain says:

      I find it really easy to catch chickens, even roosters, but then, I’m pretty sure they know and trust me. A chicken stranger might be another story.

  5. Keith Akers says:

    Does Austin have feral chickens? I’ve seen reports of feral chickens in Honolulu, New Orleans, Lakeland (Florida), and even in Philadelphia and New York.

  6. Pauline says:

    By the way, I have an online friend who has a dog, a cat and several hens. They all liaise together. But, that could be to do with the particular nature of these individuals. I’m not sure if she actually leaves them alone together. The dog was there first, then the cat, then the hens.

  7. Bea Elliott says:

    Like Pauline mentioned about dogs and chickens – They get along fine! I leave my two dogs with the hens for long periods of time without a single worry. There’s actually one hen named Linda who adores my younger dog Tucker. She follows him everywhere – Almost to his annoyance. But for future reference… The next time you spot a wayward, orphaned chicken – I bet your dog would be fine with the company. ;)

    • James says:

      I wish I could agree. You don’t know my dogs. Trust me. There’d be blood.

    • Lori Woods says:

      Yep. But it does depend on the dog and how they’ve been raised (what they’ve been exposed to). I know many cats and dogs who live in harmony and peace with chickens. I also know a few who would have to be seriously trained before allowing them near. Most dogs can be taught to coexist though. One of my dogs was permanently cured of messing with my brother’s chickens after a hen did a few Karate moves on her. She was also cured of messing with cats in a similar manner. ;-)

  8. Bea Elliott says:

    Ooops! Oh well. It’s mandatory that a guardian know the temperament of his fur-family members, and it appears you’re on top of it. Good call then leaving Ms. Hen to figure things on her own. Maybe someone without dogs found her and gave her the best home imaginable? At least that’s how I’m picturing the end of her story, safe in a caring place. <3

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