August 29, 2014 – Peaches and I were scoffing down worms from an old garden that Mom had raked out, when we heard Emaline let out a dreadful screech. It was much more intense than the customary cackling which occurs after one of us lays an egg. In fact, if I were to guess, I would say that an alien fighter pilot had just turned dear Emaline into a toad with a shape-changing laser beam.
Peaches was much more concerned over the outburst than I. None of the other hens in Coop #1 were squawking, and the roosters weren’t sounding any alarms, which led me to believe Emaline’s outburst was more about drama than danger. But Peaches wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on worm hunting until we checked things out, and if Emaline truly was in peril, I wanted to help.
We walked back to the chicken yard where a handful of hens surrounded poor Emaline who was perched frightfully so, on a high roosting branch.
“What’s wrong?” I asked Sawyer who was making a low, pitiful clicking sound with her beak.
“Is Emaline okay,” Peaches inquired?
“From what we can gather,” said Sawyer, “Emaline became frightened when a black cat strolled by. She flew to the top point of the branch and now she’s too scared to come down. Evidently, she’s afraid of heights.”
I never knew this about Emaline. “Since when?” I asked, hoping to learn more about our friend and her condition.
“Since the cat walked by about 15 minutes ago.” Sawyer replied solemnly.
“It doesn’t matter what we say to her, we can’t coax her down,” added Charlotte. “Addie even tried reaching for her wing to give it a tug, but that’s when Emaline let out the ear-piercing cry.”
“I’ve got an idea!” I said running off to the brewery. I ran into the building and grabbed the old wooden ladder that we use to add hops to the fermenter. It was heavy, but I managed to drag it through the woods. The other hens helped me set it up next to Emaline. I scurried to the top and when we were side by side, I clipped a safety harness around her waist.
“I’ve got you, Emaline,” I said softly. “Climb on my back and close your eyes. Picture yourself in your coop, settled in your nest box enjoying a nice cup of chamomile tea and the latest edition of Celebrity Chicken Magazine. I promise that I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
Emaline ventured forward enough that she could wrap her wings around my neck. Slowly, I lowered the two of us to the ground where I unclipped the harness and told her to open her eyes. We greeted her with relieved smiles and resounding cheers. Violet, Emaline’s best friend, kissed her on both cheeks the way they do in France, which made her laugh. Addie and Charlotte set off to whip up Emaline’s favorite meal – grasshopper lettuce loaf. That sounded a lot better than the worms Peaches and I were eating, so we invited ourselves to the celebratory dinner. We brought dessert… blueberries from Mom’s refrigerator.