I am very excited to announce that this is the VERY FIRST guest post here at the Red Double Wide. The best part is, that it was written by my husband! I had a blast reading this post even though I had already heard the story first hand. If you enjoy it too, please leave a comment to let him know!
Hello! I’m the husband of the “Queen”. Here she calls me “Digger”, elsewhere she calls me other things. If you haven’t guessed; I’m a subgrade contractor (think heavy equipment) and I dig for customers all over this county, but this story isn’t about me. A good friend of mine was helping to finish excavation of a painfully slow trench on Saturday while I ran some errands. He’s a contractor as well, and we have been working together quite a bit the last few years. So much so the girls have taken to calling him “Uncle Tom”, but this story isn’t about him either.
I returned to the jobsite from home near noon; a twenty plus minute commute, several miles of which is gravel and none to smooth. I parked next to the customers shop and followed the trenchline down the hill and through the trees to where Tom was still digging. He seemed content enough to keep scratching away at the dense clay subsoil, so I headed back up the hill for tools to level a transformer pad. That’s when I saw the chicken…
Now please understand that my brain didn’t process what my eyes were seeing straight away. My eyes are used to seeing chickens running around all the time, especially this particular breed of chicken, but I’m thinking about the work at hand. It’s Saturday (a day I prefer to spend with family), half my day was ate up due to prior obligations, and Tom is here trying to help me get caught up before the utility company shows up Monday morning to install.
As my feet carried me several steps closer to the truck, my mind was thinking; “Huh,… someone around here has the same breed of chicken we do.” My next thought was the fact that “around here” was nothing but woods. No close neighbors, no buildings aside from the customers new shop, and most notably there are no fences. Nothing but overgrown pine, scrub oak, and now a loose chicken accustomed to a free range life. Uh oh…!
I tried to call Grace thinking she could count her chickens and tell me if one is missing (or more to the point, hoping one isn’t), but no answer. I called the owner of the property (who lives 2,000 mi. away) to ask if he’d ever seen chickens roaming around this place, but he was sure he hadn’t. The small flicker of hope I’d had vanished. I told him “I think I have a problem. One of the Queens’ chickens stowed away on my truck, and I’m staring at it right now.” His immediate laughter made it clear he understood just how much fun trying to catch a chicken in the thick brush covering this hillside would be. The small pine and oak had grown like dog hair, and,… well,… you do the math.
When he stopped laughing we touched briefly on the project, and then he asked a favor. Would I mind disposing of some fruit he’d left in a cooler outside the door the week before? “No problem”, I said, and immediately filed that little chore away for later. I had to figure out what to do with this dang chicken!
I knew what had happened. There’s a fair gap between the bottom of the dump bed and the top of the fuel tank between the frame rails on my truck. Just about the right height for a chicken. For some reason OUR chickens feel compelled to jump up in there periodically, scratch around at nothing I can see, and bail out again at their leisure. I don’t know why; they’re chickens! They do all kinds of goofy stuff I can’t explain. Typically they leave when I start the truck, so no problem. Anyway, that’s HOW she got here, (and boy howdy that must of been some ride) but now what do I do about it?
I briefly considered how much trouble I’d be in with Grace when I got home if I simply ignored the bird and went back to work. Yea, right. Capture was a must and I knew it, but I couldn’t just walk up and catch the dang thing; I had to corner it somehow. This was looking like a two man job. I took a deep breath, glared hard at the chicken (willing it to stay put), and let out a sigh of resignation. As much as I didn’t want to interrupt Tom’s progress I headed back down the trenchline to recruit his help. When I explained the situation he laughed out loud… Why does everyone think this is funny?
By the time we got back up to the truck the chicken was gone (of course). Tom went right, and I went left hoping to surround the general area we thought it must be in. This is about the time Grace decided to return my call. She was still in town and not yet finished shopping. I explained what was going on,… SHE didn’t laugh. I’d already been considering just what to do with the little bugger once caught, but the options were few, and there was NO WAY I was turning a chicken loose in the cab of my truck. I asked if she could bring the carrier we use to transfer critters out to us after she got home. “Sure, fine”, but she wouldn’t be home for a few more hours. As my eyes searched the acres of woods for the small brown bird I said, “This could take that long.”
I heard it! The sound came from the direction Tom had gone and I followed it through the trees. I saw the little trouble maker just before I saw Tom… Now, to better understand what I was seeing, you need to know that Uncle Tom is not a small man. Well over six feet tall and something beyond two hundred pounds,… on his hands and knees crawling through the brush making chicken noises! Not only that, but the sounds he was making were remarkably convincing. It occurred to me that what I’d heard may not have been the chicken at all. I struggled to stifle my laughter not wanting to alarm the bird, and began maneuvering to trap it between us.
An hour or so later, having repeatedly tried and failed to grab the dang thing (picture headlong, prostrate dive), we resorted to steering our quarry through the trees with long sticks back down the hill toward the truck. Every cluck was a taunt! This chicken was laughing at us, and it wouldn’t shut up! We finally managed to push it out of the brush next to my trailer where it immediately took refuge. It didn’t take long to realize retrieving her out from under the trailer with sticks was hopeless. At this point Tom and I agreed that spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon being outsmarted by a chicken wasn’t our idea of recreation. I shared that I was wishing one of my daughters were there. She’d just call “Here chick, chick, chick.” and the thing would come a runnin’. Or maybe my dog? Nah, he’d fail to see the point. A gun!… Now there’s a tempting idea.
We sat on the trailer awhile considering options when I remembered the little favor the customer had asked of me. The FRUIT!!! Why had I not thought about the dang fruit until now? I went and brought it back to the trailer where we set some out as bait a couple feet beyond the birds new sanctuary. Tom sat on the trailer above it laying in wait. Oh yea,… She wanted that sweet smelling fruit bad. Really bad… But this chicken was quick and cunning. Several failed attempts later we decided to let “her” rest awhile. (Well,… it was hot! She needed a break!)
I told Tom, “You know this chicken is going to be given a name when I bring it home.” Tom knows the story of Stinky and is aware of a few other birds at my place that have been named and why. He thought a moment, then looked at me with a grin and simply said “Traveler”.
FINALLY!!! With an impressive snatch Tom had her! The little beast was contained! Victory was ours! The intellectual prowess of two middle aged contractors had ultimately prevailed! Umm,… So now what do we do with her?… I hadn’t heard from Grace, and there was STILL no way that chicken was being set loose in the cab of my truck,… So,… “Let’s hogtie her”! Tom had some string in his truck, and she really didn’t struggle all that bad while I tied her feet together. He set her down next to the fruit and water, at which point she immediately stood up and started to quickly hop away. Brilliant!… I took a longer length of string and tied her to the trailer as a lead so she couldn’t get far. In a few moments she succumbed to her defeat, realizing any attempt to escape was futile and settled for a feast of overly ripe peach and plumb.
I was finishing a couple small things on the project when Grace called. She was still some while off and it was looking like I’d have to come back the next day to finish the trench anyway, so I told her to stay home and I’d be along soon. I figured the bird could ride in the bed of my truck hogtied and tethered, but the Queen wasn’t very pleased with this suggestion. I told her I’d figure something out and went back to finish up so “Traveler” could go home.
I wound up stealing the small Styrofoam cooler the fruit had been in from my customer, and still hogtied put the little pain in the butt inside. She rode back with me without complaint on the passenger side floorboard; a piece of plywood for a lid kept her trapped, and yes, Traveler was very happy to be home.
Uncle Tom kept digging for a few more hours after I left, and I finished the excavation Sunday after church (a day I strongly feel is for faith and family). The family agreed with “Uncle Tom” as to what the perfect name for this chicken should be, so it remains…