The Funny Farm

The Funny Farm: Adventures In Chicken Sitting

This episode of The Funny Fun is brought to you courtesy of Lori Jensen Colbert, both a first time chicken keeper and a first time guest contributor to Bitchin’ Chickens.

My 16-year old daughter, Maddy, has been chicken sitting someone’s birds for a few days and it has been her weirdest gig yet.

Day 1 (evening)

The family left in the morning and said that their two hens would be out free ranging in the yard and we could come around dusk to lock them up for the night in their semi-secure coop and run. When we get there one hen was broody in the nesting box, the run door was closed, and hen #2 was nowhere to be found. We look everywhere, and wander around their yard for about half an hour shaking their mealworm bag, looking for buckets they might be trapped under, signs of feathers or blood…nothing. Vanished without a trace.

Maddy was worried that the owners will be upset with her, even though there was literally nothing she could have done differently. I message the guy telling him that one of his chickens is missing. He messaged me back that it died the night before, a predator got into the coop, but don’t tell my daughter. Don’t tell my daughter?! She was so worried that it was her fault! Sad that his chicken died, but relieved that he already knew and wasn’t going to blame her. We had a befuddled laugh over the situation.

Day 2 (morning)

My daughter and I debate on whether or not to leave the coop and run door open so that the remaining hen can free range or if we should keep her locked up to be safer since they just had a predator issue. We decide that we’ll go with the original instructions to let her free range, even though we doubt that she’ll leave the nesting box.

Day 2 (evening)

We arrive around dusk to secure the remaining hen in the coop/run and see her in the door of the coop. Huh, maybe she’s not broody after all? We open the nesting box door to check for eggs and find a SECOND CHICKEN! It’s the broody one, still sitting on her nest. The missing chicken is back, RESURRECTED!! IT’S A CHICKEN MIRACLE!!

I almost wonder if we’re going to find three chickens there tomorrow.

Day 3 (morning)

Slightly disappointed that there’s still only two chickens in the coop this morning. We locked Miss Broody and Resurrected Hen out of their coop and put some probiotics and electrolytes from our house in their water. Miss Broody proceeded to complain loudly for about five minutes and then they both drank out of the mud puddle in the driveway. Roughly 13 hours since notifying the owner of his hen’s Second Coming and no response yet. I’m hoping he isn’t the next one to go missing.

I know that some of you have come to eagerly await the latest episode of Days of Our Chickens’ Lives, and I really was thinking that I would be disappointing you with a boring, uneventful evening update. Y’all, I was SO WRONG!

Instead I’m posting the pilot episode of the spinoff series: As The Cat Turns. Heretofore I have only told you about the two adult hens, but there are actually several more characters in this petsitting drama that I will introduce to you now for the sake of the spinoff series: three teenage chickens in a separate coop that don’t free range yet, a German Shepherd who spends the night in the house and the day in a large fenced-in outdoor kennel/run area, and a mostly outdoor- a little bit indoor cat named Elloh (pronounced Ee-low).

*Fade out to a flashback*

Pre-vacation meeting the animals and getting instructions:

The owner tells us that Elloh is mostly an outdoor cat, he just comes in occasionally to eat and take a nap before going out hunting. He’ll most likely be outside when we arrive and we might not even see him all weekend because they will just leave his food and water in the breezeway and leave the sliding door cracked open enough for him to come and go as he pleases. All we need to do is freshen up his food and water every day; he doesn’t even have a litter box.

Day 1 (evening)

We arrive to find the cat’s food and water in the house and the breezeway door closed. I look around the house for the cat calling his name, but there’s no sign of Elloh and I don’t hear him meowing anywhere, so I assume that he’s outside based on what the owner told us and move his food and water into the breezeway and leave the slider open for him. We tell the owner that we haven’t seen Elloh yet and don’t give it a second thought.

Day 2 (morning)

Still no Elloh. Not concerned yet, we just include that in our update to the owner.

Day 2 (evening)

Still. No. Elloh. Wondering if I missed him inside the house the night before, I go around the house checking out any of the open rooms and calling his name, but don’t open any of the closed rooms because surely they wouldn’t have left him trapped in a closed room when they told us to expect him to be outside. (Fore-shadowing)

Still don’t find him and don’t hear him meowing anywhere, so we conclude that he must just be having an extended outdoor hunt. We update the owner that we still haven’t seen him.

Day 3 (morning)

Elloh remains elusive. Started to get truly concerned. Update the owner.

Day 3 (midday)

Hear back from the owner for the first time since messaging him about the Resurrected Chicken about 15 hours ago. He. Doesn’t. Even. Acknowledge. Anything. About. The. Resurrected. Chicken?!?! No. He just asks, “Is the cat trapped inside the house?” DUDE! This WHOLE time you weren’t sure that the cat was outside? Oh man. I can’t get over there until evening. How long can a cat go without eating, peeing, and pooping? What if the cat is stuck in one of those rooms with the closed door?!

Day 3 (evening)

The first thing I do is beeline it into the house and start tearing open those closed doors. The first one I open is the daughter’s room. Out saunters Elloh, casual as can be! He meows at me and walks out into the breezeway, eats some food, and heads outside. What. The. Heck. Thankfully he’s totally fine. Even more amazing is that so is her bedroom. No mess, no urine or feces, no signs at all that a cat was just trapped in there for 2½ days. There’s a cookie in a Ziploc bag on her desk that he hasn’t even ripped into for nourishment. The room smells like floral perfume. It’s a CAT MIRACLE! He once was lost, but now is found! Amazing grace that saved a cat like Elloh!

Day 4 (morning)

Gloriously low drama episode to report! All animals were exactly where they were expected to be upon our arrival this morning and no worse for wear from all of their adventures of the past few days The only wrinkle was finding a little white wormy thing right next to Elloh’s butt hole, which is likely a tapeworm or some other parasite from his outdoor lifestyle, but hey, cats are gonna cat, which has its risks that I think are worth letting a cat enjoy the great outdoors. Informed the owner and recommended getting him dewormed. Haven’t heard from him since his midday message yesterday.

Well, folks, it’s a wrap. I mean, I think, anyway, barring any messages from the owner saying that his trip is extended. I hope you’ve enjoyed the season finale of Adventures in Petsitting even though it wasn’t as edge of the seat as the rest of the saga. Will there be a season 2?! Who knows.

If this owner asks my daughter to petsit for him again, she would happily say yes, because:

1. The pay was great.

2. As the person responsible for 90% of pre-vacation prep in our house, I get how chaotic and stressful all those last minute details and tasks can be, so I hope that someone else would extend me some grace in a few mishaps and things slipping through the cracks. Don’t be too hard on this owner, nobody is perfect.

3. Let’s be honest. We all had a lot of fun and laughs on this journey.

Thanks to Maddy being really conscientious about her job and these animals having a guardian angel watching over them no animals were harmed during the production of this season of Adventures in Petsitting.

Many thanks to Lori Jensen Colbert for sharing her story and photos, used with permission. She and Maddy live in a small town in rural Massachusetts, where they are first time chicken keepers.

3 comments on “The Funny Farm: Adventures In Chicken Sitting

  1. I loved this. Thank you for sharing.

    I have to admit, I was waiting for the owner to be mean about something. Not pay for services, get angry that something wasn’t done right, etc. But it was all presented with humor in a positive and forgiving manner. We need more of this in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Super story!

    Liked by 1 person

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