The other day I returned home from a solo shopping mission to find Brian breathlessly entering the yard, wearing the baby in a sling, gingerly holding a cardboard box, saying "you'll never guess what happened!" Now what mischief could these two have gotten up to in the short time I was away, I wondered. Turns out that while out on a walk, Brian spotted a young chicken running free out behind our back gate. Being fairly certain that it was an escapee from the Lyneham High School, he thought he'd better try to catch it and care for it over the weekend, thus saving it from certain death at the paws of a four legged creature. Imagine if you will, Brian chasing a chick up and down a hedge while using a stick to attempt to direct the chicken out into the open where he eventually caught it with his hands, all while wearing a (probably somewhat amused) baby on his chest.
Now that the chicken was captured we faced the questions of where to keep it and what to feed it. Brian, clever chap that he is, found that a spare Pack'n'Play port-a-cot placed in the kitchen was an ideal temporary chicken coop. After a heater was set up near the pen to keep our feathered friend warm and a bowl of water and one of dry baby rice cereal placed inside, we turned to Google to determine how old our chick was, what we really should be feeding it and whether it was a boy or a girl. We decided it was somewhere around 4-6 weeks old and found that coarsely ground grains would be the best food. So we put some rice, lentils and polenta through the coffee grinder and added that to his bowl. Deciding whether it was male or female took quite a bit of research and in the meantime we covered our bases by giving it two names, Rupert Tallulah from the clan McChicken, of course. Turns out that it's really difficult to discern the gender of most chicks except that ours, an Isa Brown, is a sex linked chicken where the girls are brown and the boys are white. Tallulah it was.
Come Monday, Brian was having second thoughts about returning his new friend to the high school. He and the chick had become good buddies - it would chirp when he entered the room and continue to chirp until he held it, fly up out of the pen into his hands, fly or walk towards him whenever given the chance and fall asleep curled up in his arms. Very sweet. In the end however, we realized that Tallulah belonged with her flock as chickens are very social animals (and that the folks at the high school would probably notice one of their chickens living in our backyard - ha!).