Power Rangers, a pup and Halloween chicken tales

Now we finally know the answer to the ancient question (and annoying joke), “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Let me start by telling you it was no ordinary night. It was Halloween. And the onslaught of trick-or-treaters showed up early, ringing the doorbell just before 5 p.m.

As the skeletons, witches and superheroes approached, the chickens grew restless. So did our dog, Maxwell, who hates the doorbell and lunges at the door every time someone rings it or casts a shadow on the front window. Halloween is not his favorite night.

Before the candy-seeking mania started, I let the chickens out to scratch around the yard, thinking they couldn’t get into much trouble before dark. Our routine is to let them free-range just before bedtime, when they put themselves back in their coop to roost.

Now, the combination of curious chickens let loose, a restless dog that hates children ringing the doorbell and managing all of this solo created quite a situation. Between the first and second group of trick-or-treaters, I caught two of the chickens in the neighbor’s yard, eating what must be far-superior berries on that side of the fence. I tossed them back over into our yard, scolding them for escaping. I ran back inside the house to deal with our crazed beast of a dog, foaming at the mouth from all the barking at the doorbell.

A cute, sparkly little princess riding a fake horsey held out her plastic pumpkin candy basket as I attempted to open the door and use my leg to force our insane pet back inside the house.

“Why hello! What an adorable princess!” I forced a smile, which was more of a grimace as I struggled to keep our 85-pound dog from breaking through.

As she held out her candy bucket, all hell broke loose. Maxwell lunged forward, the sight of the candy making him lose all restraint. I struggled to keep him inside but nearly hit the little princess with the screen door, and Maxwell busted out, thrusting his head squarely into the plastic candy bucket. Let me just say that our dog doesn’t actually eat candy, he just loves sticking his head in bags and buckets for curiosity’s sake. But often, his monstrous noggin makes it difficult for him to extract himself from the situation, which happened here.

Maxwell swung his head from side to side, trying to fling the smiling jack-o-lantern off his huge head. The poor little princess stared in horror at the beast that was wearing her candy bucket as a head, making snuffling, grunting noises all over her candy. Then our gigantic dog knocked over the princess and her horse as I tried desperately to extract his head from the candy bucket and shove him back in the house, saying, “Happy Halloween! Here’s some extra candy! Trick or treat!”

Meanwhile, the chickens were up to their own antics. After the dog-assaults-princess incident, I ran outside to put them back in their coop because I didn’t need any more trouble.

I bribed them with an ear of corn and they willingly ran into the chicken run. I counted one, two, three, four ... where was chicken five? Ofeibeia was missing.

I frantically checked all the usual spots. The neighbor’s yard. The wheelbarrow they like to perch upon. The wood pile. The apple tree. No luck. And then, as the sun went down, I spotted Ofeibeia trucking across the front yard, following a group of trick-or-treaters.

I made a run for it, as she reached the street. Crossing the road, there was a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, a skeleton, two princesses and my stupid chicken. She just bobbed along, running across the road in hot pursuit. I caught up to Ofeibeia, scooped her up under my arm, and she warbled a little protest at her foiled attempt to join the band of candy-seekers.

The Power Ranger turned around and saw me with a chicken tucked under my arm like a football.

“Is that ... a chicken?” he asked.

“Um, trick-or-treat?” I said sheepishly, holding out Ofeibeia so the children could pet her. I must say, she was much better behaved than our dog on Halloween, despite the escape. I might even let her dress up in a costume next year, as long as she promises not to cross the road.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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That was great, Erin.  I laughed out loud and really enjoyed it.

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