"when you met me two years ago, did you ever think one day we would be chasing a peahen through a soybean field?"
The field is wet. The soybeans are only a foot tall, so it’s easy to get a shoe on either side of the row. As my legs brush against their leaves, rain droplets from the storm earlier today soak through my trainers.
“Are we allowed to be walking through here?” I call over the fence to our new neighbor.
“Oh yea, it’s fine,” he replies. “The deer do more damage than you’ll do in there. And the farmers are good people.” This makes me feel better but I still keep my eyes pointed down at my feet to make sure I don’t step on any of the stalks.
Ironically, before Sara, Ellen, and I left for dinner, I’d realized I left my phone on the kitchen table. I even announced to the car that no one could possibly need me in the two short hours that we would be having dinner at Bob Evans down M50, so I wasn’t going in to get it.
Then as fate would have it, halfway through enjoying our omelettes, Beau texted our house chat. Ellen looked down at her phone, and calmly informed the table that Dahlia, our peahen, had somehow escaped and we would need to pick her up from the neighbors on the way home.
Now, Dahlia lives in the chicken run. It’s an 8 by 20 fenced box. How she got out, and somehow took flight without anyone noticing, is still a mystery. Thankfully, pea fowl only fly about a mile. So she didn’t go far.
When we pulled into the neighbors’ yard it was completely quiet. We knocked on the door and poked our heads inside the barns but there was no sign of Dahlia. So Ellen and I dropped Ness and Sara off at home and went back out to search for her.
Beau said the farm that called was west of our house. So we drove west, scanning the trees with our eyes. Pea hens like to roost high off the ground, so we assumed she’d only flown until she found good tree coverage, then posted up.
We drove north, scanned around, drove further and further until there was no way she could be that far.
We finally decided to give up and drive home. Then we saw one of our neighbors staring suspiciously into one of his tall trees.
We’d already driven by this house multiple times. It has an 8 foot fence and a large metal gate with stickers implying that the family inside has potentially dangerous dog(s) and guns and isn’t afraid to use them.
“Why does this house have so much security?” Ellen asks. I don’t know the answer, but I’m also not keen on finding out.
“Ask him, ask him, ask him,” she pressures me, as our car crawls by.
“No, I’m shy,” I reply.
“Ask him!” she says again, rolling down the window.
“Um excuse me,” I say in my sweetest voice. The man turns around and looks our way. “We lost our pea hen, have you seen her?”
“I’m looking at her right now. Come on inside!”
We spent the next 30-60 minutes bonding with our new neighbor, meeting his goats, and taking turns climbing a really tall ladder with a salmon net and garden hose to try and coax Dahlia out of the tree.
Ellen is the better chicken wrangler, so she stood under the tree, waiting to catch her as she came down. Then, after I failed miserably, we decided to switch.
“You go on the other side of the fence with the second salmon net. Then if she comes down on your side, you catch her, and if she comes down on this side, you throw the net over the fence and I’ll get her,” new neighbor schemed.
I took off through the front garden, around the gate and into the soybean field.
“She’s down on that side already,” New Neighbor called out to me. Dang, Ellen got her down fast. “Ellen is on her way over there. Wait for her so you guys can get on either side of her.”
Dahlia pranced quickly through the field towards the back of the yard. New Neighbor and his trusty goats kept an eye on her and gave us her position while we carefully traversed the soy beans, pushing her towards the weeds and asparagus patch at the back of his property.
We got on either side of the weed patch, I pressed forward so Ellen could trap her-
Once she was safely in Ellen’s arms, we tossed the salmon nets over the fence and thanked our new neighbor for all of his help.
“I’m just glad to help you get your pet back,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do if one of these girls got out.” I pet his cute goats on their snouts to thank them for their help.
Final Summation: Pea Hens are sneakier than they look and never judge your neighbor by their garden gate.