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Flying the Coop

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We’re puppy sitting for our neighbors and this lovable bundle of bounce is just too much for our farm animals.  The sheep have been stamping their little hooves whenever the miniature terror comes near their pasture.  Bean-the-bunny hops quickly back into her hutch to avoid the wet nose investigations.  The chickabiddies, who are currently confined to protect them from the Daily Fox, crowd to the middle of their yard when a certain silly wagger runs over to say ‘hello.’  The housecats have scattered, but by now, with trepidation, our three dogs have accepted this new charge.  At least the goats and horses seem unphased.

Figaro, our white peacock, typically hangs around our house, calling and displaying rather constantly as his duties these days are all about courtship.  Jewel, his gal, typically moves in larger circles and seemingly ignores him.  Sometimes we find them involved in a “can’t catch me” game where he pursues and she runs away, and it includes some very interesting guttural sounds from her as well.  At night, the two of them roost far, far above in the giant oak tree in the backyard and Fig keeps watch, emitting those very loud and stereotypical peafowl hollers from his branch intermittently in attempts to cast spells to protect his lady friend.

Fig, in full display
Figaro spends a lot of time on the back porch

On Day 2 of puppy-sitting, Fig flew the coop.  We noticed he was missing somewhere around midday.  We searched the fields and surrounds on our road for tell-tale signs of struggle or a trail and couldn’t find anything.  I bemoaned and belittled myself for bad-mothering.  Jewel had come up to me at some point and just hung out for the longest time so that I knew she was worried too.  We walked over to the coopyard together and I tucked her in with the hens for the night.  She and I accepted that Fig was not nearby and she should not sleep alone in the trees that night.

Jewel spent the night without Fig in the enclosed chicken yard

Next morning, bright and early, I was up and catching our loose pony.  I rescued a duckling that had been stuck in his crate all night.  I tended the flocks and was just shutting the door on the chicken coop when a white truck came sweeping into the front yard. (Cue Knight in Shining Armor!)  I fairly flew and ran to say good morning to someone whom I was sure had news of my peacock.

Indeed, this neighbor from several streets away introduced himself and told me the tale of Fig’s arrival in his backyard the day before.  Apparently he came upon his wife who was sunning by their backyard pool and “Honked!” her to attention!  Their afternoon was spent enjoying his company, observing his interesting behaviors when their cat decided to play with him, and searching for his owners.  Somehow or other, we have a reputation in this area for owning white peacocks and they learned that he belonged to us.  They looked our name up in the phone book to try to hone in on where we lived and took it from there.  These kind neighbors had been trying to phone me, but to no avail.

Confession:  I am a HORRIBLE phone person.  I’d never even checked the phone to see if there were messages and obviously hadn’t picked it up during the day when they tried reaching us.  Often I am outside and don’t hear the phone, sometimes I am inside and don’t get to it in time.

All I’d had to do was check my phone for messages and I would’ve saved myself a loss of sleep and frazzled nerves!

Jody and I loaded the truck with a large net, a bucket of scraps & scoop of grain, and crated lady-friend Jewel.  We drove for less than 10 minutes and arrived at Fig’s respite-house.

Jewel, crated for the ride to lure and capture Figaro back

Imagine my relief when we pulled up and there he was, posed on their rooftop.

Figaro-on-the-Roof: safe atop the neighbors’ garage!

The question of the hour was “How are you going to get him down?”  We hoped that Jewel’s presence would lure him to the ground and then we’d be able to shut him into the crate “tunnel of love.”  He was wary and seemed not in a hurry.  So I announced, “I’m going to call him.”  Jody just shook his head and luckily the neighbors had removed themselves to the background to give us a little room.

When I call my peacocks, it’s a rather humbling experience if there is an audience.  I don’t profess to be an expert at animal calls, but if I’m going to do it at all, it means giving it my full effort.  So when you try to sound like a peacock, you do not necessarily stay “composed.”

I held my hands up to either side of my face, tented my fingers and pressed against my sinuses just so, and then called “HmmHAWWW!” as loudly and resonantly as I could.

Guess who knows his mama?!

Imagine the wind spinning the weathervane on top of the roof and you’ve got the picture of Fig after he heard me call.  He quickly trotted down the roof, flew to the ground and trotted right over to me, Jewel and the large crate set up in his honor.

Jody just stood there and said “I don’t believe it!”

After that we gave Fig some time to figure out what he was supposed to do to become captured. When we decided he’d had enough time for that and didn’t really want to spend the day waiting, we used the net.  Jody just swooped it down on top of his head and neck, he didn’t budge, and we carried him into the crate.  Two peacocks loaded into the back of the truck later, we brought the pair back to Wing and a Prayer Farm.

Waiting for Fig to “take the bait!”
Succesful capture – loading peafowl up for their ride home!
Home again, home again!

Fig and Jewel are now chillin’ with the chickens until the puppy goes home tonight.  Better safe than sorry.  Not too many feathers were ruffled though I have happily promised feather souvenirs to the 10-year-old-twins that helped their parents keep watch over my guy.

Safe in the chicken compound.
Preening some ruffled feathers after a morning ride.

Good neighbors, just so you know, they’re still out there!  And today I’m making some sort of pie as a token of gratitude.  The suggestions for appropriate “Peacock Rescue Pies” have been “PEAch” or “PEcan”, of course!

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