Capturing Fluffy in the Freezing Cold:
“My Love for this Special Creature Who Honored Me by Choosing Our Home”
Outside in the freezing cold and snow, a hen who’d appeared some months earlier out of nowhere drew the anxious attention of a New Hampshire resident named Mary. Fearing this hen would freeze to death or be attacked by a predator, Mary contacted United Poultry Concerns in early December 2020 about the best way to capture her. Weeks went by. Sometimes the hen disappeared for days. Worried sick over the elusive soul being out there somewhere on the frozen ground, Mary was determined to save her friend, whom she named Fluffy. Here is Mary’s story of how she succeeded after months of fear and frustration over the fate of Fluffy. – Karen Davis, UPC
December 21, 2020
Dear Mary, How is Fluffy? Do you see her these days? Is she still Out There, or have you succeeded in capturing her?
Mary: Yes, finally! Every day more than 3 times a day I went outside with her, because she needed company besides food. A week ago we bought a used picnic table, covered it with cardboard & a tarp, reinforced the base with rocks on the two long sides, but left it open on both ends.
Fluffy entered after I moved food and water closer to it each day. She was reassured because the opposite end was open and she could escape when she wanted. The cardboard floor with hay and dried oak leaves was dry and warmer than outside. Five days of that, gaining her trust. The rains and snow came and she sheltered until 2:30pm when she sought a tree roost for the night. Freezing nights with 50mph winds, driving sleet, snow and temps down to 6 degrees. Breaking my heart. Not sleeping.
Finally, Saturday at 6 am, in deep snow I found her clutching a branch in a hemlock, just three feet off the ground. She was afraid of dropping into the snow so I shoveled the base to show her the soil and she went for it. Came for her food and warm water, amazed at the snow on her legs and feet. Yes, she looked at her poor feet as she lifted them.
I’d secured the opposite end of the table so she couldn’t get out, and as she entered the enclosure, I closed the entrance behind her with plywood. I felt like I betrayed her trust, but I had to do it so she would survive. I called the New Hampshire SPCA at 8:30 am.
They came and the most wonderful young woman simply pulled up a portion of the tarp and crawled in. In minutes, with much squawking from Fluffy, she placed her in a large carrier. I was so cold, exhausted, and overwhelmed, I burst into tears and hugged this competent, compassionate, young, bright light of a woman. Three months and Fluffy did not die. What a survivor. She is smart (confirming all those reports), and she knew me. I’ve learned that chickens can recognize so many faces, see colors we can’t see, and Fluffy had a trust in me that overrode her concerns. She saw me; isn’t that what we all want?
For the first time in three months, I saw Fluffy sit that Saturday morning. All these months she was on the alert and never really resting. Can you imagine? She gathered herself on the blanket in the carrier and looked into my eyes. She wasn’t agitated one bit. Jordan, the rescuer, said she’d be in a warm stall with hay in the shelter. I gave them all the leftover chicken food and asked if I could visit. No. She will be quarantined from other animals for about a month. Because of COVID I am not allowed in.
Karen, I want so much to see her. I will call around to see if someone who keeps chickens will adopt her after a month because I am concerned someone who is not careful enough could adopt her and she’d be in danger . . . again.
I’m telling you all this because you understand my feelings. You’ve known these lovely animals for so long. I had to share with you my love for this special creature who honored me by choosing our home.
Thank you for caring and checking back with me. – Mary
Epilogue, January 27, 2021
Finally, after looking for Fluffy’s new home, I FOUND it! I went to a feed store and checked their bulletin board. Checked so many other things over these weeks, but I don’t give up. I called a woman who pet sits farm animals! She and her husband said, “Yes” They are going to take her AND they live 10 minutes from me AND I have visiting rights. The yard is totally fenced and her other chickens enjoy a garden.
On Saturday, January 23, I got to see Fluffy in her nice large carrier ready to go to her new home. She was even more beautiful. She quieted down in the backseat of the car when I spoke to her. She had to know my voice. I was so sorry to let her go, but that’s what I want for her – to be safe and happy with her new life. – Mary