Updated 2015-03-06 18:04:33 ID=682:0

© 2015 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Henrietta the Uninvited Free Range Chicken that Flies


The trials and tribulations of unexpectedly acquiring one classic Tuscan Farm-looking chicken that flies, to her becoming an "almost pet."

We had just driven-in to our home’s front drive-way,returning from being out of town for two nights. When to our surprise, there-in our front courtyard stood a live chicken 'a la’ the classic Tuscan Farm-looking chicken!' “Where did that come from I exclaimed!”

We had just driven-in to our home’s front drive-way,returning from being out of town for two nights. When to our surprise, there-in our front courtyard stood a live chicken 'a la’ the classic 'Tuscan Farm-looking' chicken! “Where did that come from I exclaimed!”

Of course we surmised that the chicken was from our neighbors about a quarter -mile away. We had heard an occasional “cock-a doodle-doo” now and then a couple of years ago when they had a rooster.—He awoke and did his “morning-greeting” usually around Noon.—Obviously that rooster was either retired or on welfare! But we hadn’t heard any rooster-or chicken sounds for at least a year. But those neighbors were the only ones that had had chickens in this neighborhood.

Good Grief I exclaimed! that’s all I need right now! Larry, my husband said, “let’s just get the car unpacked,-we can deal with this later.”

©2015 The Romantic Table Henrietta, the free range chicken 2015-03-06 18:01:22:362
©2015 The Romantic Table

Henrietta is -whether I like it or not, a pet-chicken of mine now. Up until now, I thought of "chickens" as a delicious food source ingredient. But since meeting Henrietta, I hope I don't feel too guilty and ruin my enthusiasm for one of cuisine's most versatile meats.
The next morning, when we looked outside, the chicken was tending to our organic herb and California Natives gardens, hunting down bugs, tiny insects and who knows what! Larry was actually glad she was here doing the job of turning up the soil etc. that needed to be done—and was on his “do-do list” but he never had the luxury of enough time to complete such a task. “Let her work here a day or so and then we’ll have to find a way to get her back home.”

About a day later, I called the neighbor and told them that I thought their chicken was up at our house. I also told her, we had tried to guide her down to our property-line , but she refused to be herded. This chicken could FLY! And I mean as high as the treetops! I asked our neighbor to send a couple of their ranch-hands up to help us catch her or at least get her to the property-line where perhaps she’ll find her way home.

That proposal “didn’t fly” with the neighbor. “Oh that’s ‘Looney-Bird’-she’s wild and is very hard to catch. We don’t really want her back.” Just great I thought! Now what are we going to do? When I told Larry that the neighbors didn't really want her back, he said then let's name her "Henrietta." Which we did.

The next day, the chicken was very vocal-with a really sad baying cluck. So I gave her some "sweet mix" (a mixture fed to horses,cattle and other animals made up of corn and various grains plus a little molasses) She ate it-hesitantly, but then seemed to be much happier. So then I thought I had better get some real chicken feed. I called the Pet Store and I asked if they sold chicken feed. Yes they did-basic chicken-scratch as well as twelve different kinds of feed to help make the type of eggs I want. "No-no I exclaimed! I only have one chicken and she came here uninvited and I don't need her eggs!"

The store lady asked HOW she came to be at our house. So I told her the above story. The sales-person also told me to be on the lookout for eggs, since even unfertilized chickens lay eggs until they're about four or five years old. Since neither my husband or I have seen no evidence of eggs, this hen must be an older one.

Nowadays whenever I call her, by her new name, she comes running to me. She even comes running to me even when I don't want her- which was an almost disaster of coming into our house when she was quietly running right behind me and I didn't know she was there. Luckily she never got in.

Never in my life did I think we would have a chicken such as Henrietta on our land! I love chicken to eat-em-m Chicken Saltimbocca, Chicken Cacciatora, Chicken Julia, but the thought of having a physically live chicken, that's another story! And the idea of a chicken coop and chickens just didn't fit into our lifestyle. On top of that, we have a big German Shepherd and a Black feral cat - not exactly the most ideal creatures to have as a chicken's fellow buddies. That was enough for us. Plus we have too much always going on and I sure didn't need anymore work!

But having just ONE Free-Range Chicken, is another story. She can be Larry's "assistant gardener." Plus she's so colorful, when one looks at her, she looks just like a charming garden ornament!

So since now I am the guardian of this flying chicken, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about their lifestyle and methods of feeding and keeping her happy.

For instance, free-range chickens eat all sorts of bugs as well as small mice and rodents. (Another plus in her favor!) And only some varieties of chickens actually fly. Probably this is why she survived so long, avoiding malicious dogs, coyotes, foxes and other wild animals. Chickens can live up to twenty years.

And get this! She sleeps, perched on a branch of our largest olive tree!

She's pretty neat! Henrietta is-whether I like it or not, a pet-chicken of mine now. Up until now, I thought of "chickens" as a delicious food source ingredient. But since meeting Henrietta, I hope I don't feel too guilty and ruin my enthusiasm for one of cuisine's most versatile meats.

But Larry, who thinks this whole bizarre affair is funny and laughs when he sees Henrietta following behind me, just may have the last laugh. But I sure don't hope so! -Stay tuned!




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A tip from Sue!

Sauteing whole garlic

If your recipe calls for whole garlic, it doesn't burn as easily when in larger pieces. But you do need to score your garlic cloves all over in order to release the garlic juices and fragrance .Always be careful to avoid burning the cloves. It'll make the garlic cloves bitter and ruin what you're cooking.