After the chickens escaped yesterday morning, I put Scott, my husband, on notice that he was going to have to help me clip their wing feathers again. I never gave the renegades any food all day, and hunger did bring one of them home, but the others apparently found enough goodies in my flowerbeds and under the wild bird feeder to sustain them. They also made an absolute mess of my flowerbeds, a situation I remedied this morning by planting some annuals and putting out new mulch. I will have to wait for the hosta, which had just recovered from its last chicken attack, to grow new foliage, though.
Chicken-keeping is supposed to be my responsibility, but clipping chicken wings is definitely a two person job, and Scott agreed to help me, even though chicken-wrangling is not his favorite activity. At about 8:30 PM, when some of the chickens had already gone to roost, we plucked them off the roosts and clipped their wings very short. I firmly cradled the birds on their backs, in my arms, and he spread out a wing and trimmed an inch or two off of each feather. We looked carefully for the bright red-veined feathers, called blood feathers, that contain a blood vessel, but didn't see them. If we had seen them, we would not have cut those wings. Cutting their wing feathers is like cutting our hair or fingernails; it doesn't hurt them, but the haircut is not attractive. The known escapees got a shorter hairdo than the ones who hadn't flown out, but everyone got a trim.
By about 8:50, we had taken care of eight of the chicken's wings, except the one Barred Rock who defiantly refused to come back into the pen and instead was trying, unsuccessfully, to fly high enough to roost in the dogwood tree near the pen. I tried to grab her, but she ran off to the patio again, and hid under the bushes. Scott held up an old bath towel we were using to wrap around the chickens while trimming their wings towards her as if he were taunting a bull at the Spain's running of the bulls, and, admitting defeat, she lowered her head and ran as fast as she could to the safety of her house. She began gobbling food, but I interrupted her feast to grab her, wrap her in the towel, and give her the shortest haircut of all the chickens.
This morning when I let them out of their house, no one followed me back to the house, and the last time I saw them, they were all pecking around in the pen at the grasses and bugs in the yard. I even set out a new hosta plant, beside the one they destroyed, because I think my chickens are finished escaping, at least until their wings grow back.
Labels: chickens, trimming chicken wings