By Alesha Thompson (Jennifer’s sister)
Fall in Wisconsin was in full swing when my husband and I decided it was time to sell the chickens. We keep chickens in the summer because they are fun, easy, and a great source of fresh eggs! But once it gets cold, which it always does in Wisconsin, the chickens become a whole lot of work that neither my husband nor I want to do. So every fall, my husband posts “chickens for sale” on Craig’s List and the chickens go to some other happy farmer for the winter.
This worked all well and good until last year, when the man who wanted to buy the chickens couldn’t get down to our home to pick them up, and so my husband made a deal with him that we would transport the chickens to him—a drive of about forty minutes. No problem, right? Wrong. My husband, the full-time manager of a consulting firm and farmer on the side, had to work the day the chickens needed to be transported. So, you guessed it, transporting the chickens was left to me—the very supportive wife of a part-time farmer who never dreamed she would ever even live on a farm let alone transport chickens.
Now, I am not talking about five or six chickens here, but a whopping 28 chickens that needed to be transported. I am basically a city girl that has no clue on how to transport live chickens. But I was willing. “Get some boxes and close the top with a small enough opening so you can shove the chickens in once you catch them,” my husband says on his phone from his cozy office. “You can probably fit 5-8 chickens per box and then put the boxes in the back of the van.” He means my nice Honda Odyssey minivan that I transport kids to and from school in. “Okay,” I say with innocent naiveté.
So I head out to the chicken coop, find a few large, study boxes and get them ready for chicken occupancy. I lower the seats in the back of my van and get to work rounding up chickens. Well, frankly, “rounding up chickens” is not as easy as it may sound. Chickens are very good at evading you when you are trying to catch them. Of course, when you are bringing food to them they swarm and peck you, but when you simply want to catch them and shove them into a box, they are a little less compliant.
And so the fun began. First I tried to round them into corners. Then I tried to use them against each other by backing a couple into corners and snatching the one that couldn’t get away. Did I mention that chickens are fast and tricky? If you manage to get a hold of one, she screams and flaps her wings frantically, so even though grabbing one is hard, holding on is even harder. Then comes the shoving into boxes. Chickens don’t like to be shoved into boxes with five or so other chickens in there. They squawk, poop, flap their wings, and even sometimes manage to get out of the box. And the fun begins again. Let’s just say, the process was A LOT harder than I expected and probably took three times as long as I thought it would. Just imagine me running around a chicken coop chasing chickens for an hour. Fun.
I did finally get the chickens loaded into about four boxes, taped them down so that were would be no chicken escapage while I was driving, and headed out. Have you ever driven down the highway in a minivan with 28 chickens squawking in boxes in the back? I kept looking in my rear view mirror waiting to see chickens escaping the boxes and flapping and pooping all over my minivan. Thankfully that never happened. I got the chickens delivered and passed over to the man who would then be hauling 28 chickens in boxes back to his farm. I sure hope those chickens survived the trauma of the transport. I am not sure I did. I still have post-traumatic chicken transport disorder. And I have also learned never to naively say “Okay” when it comes to transporting chickens.