Clipping their Wings

We love that our hens get to run around the yard, even though we only let them into about 1/3 of it – with the new garden fencing.  Well, it’s not new; we did it last spring.  I may have mentioned it before.

I finally found incontrovertible proof that they were escaping the limitations that I’d decided were healthy for them.  They don’t know what’s good for them.  They don’t know what dangers are out there. They don’t see the big picture.  I don’t want them getting into things that could hurt them, or confuse them, or cause bother to me.

One of them had gotten into the habit of flying on top of the coop, then flying down off the roof into the yard outside the chicken yard.  After roaming the backyard for awhile, she would then fly back on to the roof and back into the fenced yard.  I only noticed her doing this after it was, clearly, a habit.  She didn’t know any better; no one had told her that it was verboten.  I then mentioned it – but again, clearly, she was in no mood to follow my rules.

It wasn’t a problem until the OTHER 3 hens started to follow her.  It was a veritable posse of unruly lawlessness.  Anarchy.

I had to take drastic measures that I’d only previously read about in the chicken book.  I had to clip all of their ‘flight feathers’ so they couldn’t fly.  Never seen it done, nor had I had to do it to our first batch of layers.

Although it was for the best, faint tendrils of loss still lurk in the corners of my mind, if not also theirs, because I have taken from them the heady liberty that taunts them through the fence.  “Banis Waia”, or “banish wire”, is what we called it over in the jungle, in pidgin.  It was used to banish animals to one side or another.  Liberty through banishment – is there such a thing?

Paul Dunbar writes of it ( Maya Angelou uses the first line as the basis for the beginning of her autobiography) in his poem, “Sympathy”:

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings.

Our hens know about this, and that’s why we love them so much.