The gentleman at our front door launched into a complicated tale about needing help to round up some chooks (which is Aussie slang for chickens) that had gotten loose after a fox attack. A little bemused, we followed him out the door.
As we were chook-hunting, we learned more. The chooks didn’t belong to him, but to his next-door neighbors, who were on vacation. From his yard, he had seen the hens outside the coop in their netted enclosure. A fox had managed to breach the enclosure and attack one of the hens. He’d frightened off the fox, but the chickens had scattered. He wanted our help to find and secure them, in his own garage if necessary.
We tracked two of the chooks, perched on a fence between the properties. The plan was to herd them into this gentleman’s yard. We approached as quietly as we could. The two brown hens didn’t move. We crept closer; still they didn’t stir. They just clucked softly to each other, as if waiting. Finally, my husband and daughter marched forward and plucked them from the fence. They continued to cluck, as if chiding us for taking so long. My husband and daughter returned them to their coop while I searched for the missing chook. What I found was a pile of black feathers—uh-oh.
“Over here!” our new neighbor called.
The black chook was in his yard. We surrounded her, and my husband picked her up, although she was flapping her wings and considerably more distressed than the other two.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. After a quick trip to the vet, the black chook was fine and returned to her mates. And we were left marveling—only in Australia would we spend our first day in a new home chasing chooks.