I'm honestly not sure what possessed me to let the chickens out of their coop. It's not really the kind of thing I do. We've only had the chickens for about a month, and for the most part they are my husband's responsibility.
But there I was in the backyard with Rooster and Cupcake enjoying the sunshine and beautiful weather, and the chickens looked so lonely trapped in their muddy coop. "It won't be that bad!" I thought.
I let the kids help me open the cage door, and we backed away as the girls slowly pecked their way into our beautiful, overgrown yard. The kids quickly lost interest in the hens, and we all went about our business eating bugs, kicking rocks, and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Little Bear was inside napping, so periodically I would stick my head in the house to make sure he was still sleeping. Sure enough, about 15 mins later I heard faint whimpers coming from the nursery, so like any good mother I wrangled my very disappointed toddlers back inside and bribed them with "iPad time" if they would just stop trying to kick me.
It worked. Toddlers inside and happy. Baby fed. Chickens completely forgotten.
It wasn't until two hours later as I was getting the kids ready to go on a walk, that I suddenly remembered I'd left the chickens running loose in our backyard. Now apparently it's not really a bid deal for chickens to run loose in the backyard unsupervised. However, I'm a newbie at this chicken mom thing, and I in all my ignorance pretty much freaked out.
I grabbed the broom and a bowl of blackberries and ran outside praying that my chickens were still in the yard. I found all four of those clucky little birds foraging for bugs in our garden, safe and sound.
Three of them went back into their pen without much fuss; however, there was one bird who eluded me. No matter how sweetly I talked to her or how wildly I waved my broom, she would not go back into the pen. I spent several minutes chasing her around the yard, only to watch her almost fly over the fence trying to get away from me. Scaring her was doing more harm than good, so I decided to go back to the house. It was only one bird after all.
I walked up the back steps and reached for the door knob.
It was locked.
Panic hit me like a ton of bricks. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed my husband's number.
"I need you to ride home as fast as humanly possible. I'm locked out of the house. (pause) But the kids are still inside."
"I'll be there in 10 minutes."
Recently Rooster has had a fascination with doors. He takes pride in the fact that he is now tall enough to open and close just about any door he wants to. Apparently, he can also lock them.
I doubled checked the back door and the front door. Both locked. I rummaged in the van hoping maybe I'd left a set of keys in there. I checked the shed where we used to keep a spare key like three years ago. Nothing.
I went back to the door and stared through the glass helpless to do anything but wait and pray. I was locked out and there was nothing I could do about it.
Each of my children reacted very differently to situation. Little Bear was lying in his swing on the kitchen table, and pretty much screamed the entire time. He wasn't happy about being unceremoniously dumped in the swing when I rushed out after the chickens, and my lack of response to his crying just escalated the situation. He was the only child I couldn't see very well, and of course, he was the one I was most worried about.
At one point I ran around the back of the house, climbed in a chair and tried to see in the kitchen windows. I thought maybe if I could see Little Bear I could put my mind at ease knowing that he really was okay even if he was rather angry. I couldn't see him.
I took up my previous post at the back door just in time to see Cupcake come running around the corner screaming, spitting, and foaming at the mouth. She'd gotten into the dish soap, and apparently it doesn't taste good. (I make my own dishwasher soap from baking soda, washing soda, and salt.) She stood at the door throwing a fit and deeply offended that I would not just come back inside and help her.
Rooster understood more of the situation. He tried to unlock the back door for me, and at one time managed to unlock the door knob only for me to discover that he'd locked the deadbolt too. He lost interest long before I could explain to him what a deadbolt was.
"Rooster, can you unlock the door for mommy?"
"Door locked.""Yes, can you unlock it?"
"Yeah, Jojo is crying."
(Rooster runs to climb up on the kitchen table.)
"No buddy, don't help him!!! He's okay. Come back here."
"Yeah she's crying too. Can you unlock the door for mommy?"
(Runs out of the kitchen and comes back a few minutes later.)
"Yes. That's my wallet."
I spent the next several minutes watching my two-year-old empty out my wallet and throw the contents around the kitchen. It could have been worse.
It took my husband 9 minutes to get home. The whole time I was standing at the back door I had this vision of him zooming up the driveway on his bike, keys in hand, ready to save the day.
It did not happen that way. He came up the driveway alright, but he did not have a key. Thankfully his boss had overheard the situation and had given him a ride home. They both got out of the truck and my husband ran to grab a ladder and a screw driver.
His big plan was to hope that one of the windows was unlocked.
It was at this point that I really wanted to lose it. I had visions of police cars, flashing lights, a lock smith, and child protective services. I had all kinds of "what if" scenarios running through my mind. The kids had been alone inside for about 20 minutes already, and if we had to call for help it could easily be another 30 minutes before I could get to them them.
I thought about looking up the number for a lock smith. I thought about finding a hammer and busting out the back door window. I thought about just kicking the door down ninja mom style.
I didn't do any of those things. Instead. I made a joke about how the chickens were loose but the kids were locked up tight. Ha. Ha.
It was no small mercy that our bedroom window was unlocked. My husband had gone through the house and locked up the other windows before we left on vacation last week, but apparently he missed one. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him coming through the kitchen to unlock the back door.
I rushed in and picked up Little Bear. Within two minutes my husband had Cupcake in her bed with a pacifier, and Rooster on the couch with an iPad.
It took me 10 minutes to calm Little Bear down completely, but soon even he was napping happily in his own bed. Everything was back to normal.
Praise the Lord for normal!