After the episode, I decided that raising chickens wasn't really my thing, but my husband thought that the $150 spent on the chicken tractor (not to mention the entire day spent building the thing) was sufficient reason enough to keep the chickens.
Desperate to convince him that these chickens needed to GO, I decided to find out if having chickens where we lived was actually legal. So, I spent a couple hours looking online at zoning ordinances and calling the township (probably should have done this before hand, but, in my defense, there were cows across the street...). And much to my pleasant surprise, it was, in fact, illegal to have chickens where we lived. Score!!!
Nate, being one to follow the letter of the law, couldn't argue.
Permission granted, I had to get these chickens back to Farmer John. And quick.
My elderly neighbor lady came over one day.
"I see you have chickens," said she.
Not knowing if she was for or against, I quickly said, "Yes, but don't worry. They are going back to the farmer...as soon as I can figure out how to get them into their cage."
Rolling up sleeves on her ample arms, she furrowed her brow. "Grew up on a farm until I was 19. I'll get 'em in for ya."
My deliverer! I ushered her over to the tractor.
Now, remember how I mentioned that we never made a door on this tractor? I knew this was going to be interesting as we started pulling off part of the fencing that was stapled (note to self: use nails next time - this is a story for another day) on the wood.
Once we got enough of the fencing pulled off, she lowered her large frame to sturdy knees and stuck the upper part of her body in the coop. She reached out and grabbed at a chicken. Missed. Grabbed at another. Missed. Finally, with a force that I did not know she posessed, she grabbed a hen by its legs and slammed it to the ground. She grunted, reached behind - right at me - with that flapping bird and said, "Push it in the cage! Get its wing down!"
WHAT?!! Touch the thing?! I thought she said she'd take care of this and now I have to TOUCH it?!
I cringed and winced as I gingerly stuck out one finger and poked at the outstretched wing (this was the first time I touched a chicken - at least a living one). I do believe she got a little impatient with my fear of (living) chickens and shoved that bird, outstretched wing and all, headfirst into the cage. Huffing and puffing, she got back down and proceeded to level each bird in turn and stuff them into their prison.
Singing her praises and thanking her profusely, I put the cage into my car (okay, I think she put it in my car...), loaded up the kids, and drove straight to Farmer John's house to return the defiled goods.
He wasn't home, but I was not taking them back with me. So, I grabbed the cage with cautious fingers (positioned as far away from their beaks as possible), placed it in his yard where I hoped he'd see it when he returned, and took off.
I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. My chicken adventures were over. Or so I thought...