The chicken diaries: Time out

I became a parent to two chickens I named Sitfwatfwa (snow) and Thandi (love) in January 2017. This is their story. 

My chickens spent a week in time out because of their flight risk. Apparently, chickens just want to go home, and when your chickens’ last home was the coop at your tutor’s house next door, that’s where they want to be. 

When sisi and I first brought the chickens home, make instructed us to put them in an old barrel with a broiler chicken my family decided not to eat. They were going to live there until make deemed them adjusted to our home. 


The newest members of the family, Sitfwatfwa and Thandi.

Make thought the chickens would stay in the barrel for a few days and then they would move into the mango tree the other chickens call home. 

But Thandi had other plans. 

On their second day here, make let them out to see how they were adjusting. Sitfwatfwa ran away first and was later collected from my tutor. 

Then when I got home in the afternoon, make said Thandi had run away. I went to my tutor’s house to look for her, and we found her in the coop getting settled for the night. 

My tutor had to battle all the chickens and the rooster in the coop to get Thandi out. The rooster flew into my face and fortunately did not hurt me. 

I took Thandi home and put her in the barrel. I checked on her about five minutes later and she was gone. Again. 

I sounded the alarm and formed a search party. We chased her across the yard, and I failed to catch her. Trying to catch something with wings, a sharp beak, and claws is terrifying. 

We followed her into the grass and lost her. Finally make caught her. 

Of course, we now had to escape-proof the barrel. This involved a metal grate placed over the barrel and it was first held down with a broken chair and later a broken jerry can. 

This first week of their life with me was not luxurious by any means. 

The barrel was cramped and cleaned out every few days. They were forced to stay in time out because of the flight risk. 

I took Sitfwatfwa out about once a day, but I never let go of her. Thandi scared me too much to try to hold her. 

Reaching into the barrel for their food and water bowls was terrifying. I never knew if they would try to peck me or try to escape. 

Of course, Thandi would choose one of these moments to make her escape again, leading to their freedom from time out. 

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