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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Escaping that couped-up feeling

© Another Day in the Country

I’d eaten my solitary lunch of leftovers. Both “solitary” and “leftover” were less than satisfactory, but it solved a quick fix nutritionally. Looking down at my dish, I weighed the pro and con of walking half a block to give my leftovers to chickens across the way. Pro won.

“I’ll gather the eggs while I’m at it,” I mused, always one for multitasking, killing two birds with one stone, doing double duty, ever efficient, etc.

When I got to the door of the chicken house, a blackish hen met me at the door, as usual, complaining about wanting to get out while I got in. I had to be quick and nimble as I opened the door just wide enough for me, with my foot in front making the opening not wide enough for her, and slammed the screen quickly behind myself.

I gave them the food — chow mein with basmati rice — a favorite of mine and obviously theirs as they gobbled up the goodies. I cleaned out the dish with a paper towel I’d brought just for that purpose and headed to the nest boxes to get the eggs — only half a dozen so far. Several girls were obviously waiting until the last minute or taking a day off.

The hens were busy nibbling on bean sprouts and snow peas as I pushed the screen to go out — no need for nimble footwork now. The screen wouldn’t open.

“What?” I mumbled to myself, since no one else was around and the chickens were otherwise occupied. “The door is locked?”

And, it was! Locked from the outside with one of those swiveling lath locks so popular with farmer types. I was locked inside the chicken house.

I wiggled the door, tried to threaten the lath to make it turn, move, anything. It resolutely stayed in place.

“Think, Pat, think. What can you do?”

Although I was pretty close to Jess’s house, it wouldn’t do me any good to holler. She’d told me she was cleaning her kitchen, so I knew she wouldn’t be coming out anytime soon and I’m sure she had music playing.

There was a slim crack between the screen door and the door jam. I looked around for any kind of stick to jimmy the lath, attempting to move it up or down. Didn’t work. Maybe a wire? So I went looking for wire of any kind.

“If all else fails, I’ll try and stick something through the chicken wire on the screen door on a stick and wave it, hoping to get someone’s attention,” I reasoned.

I wondered how long that would take and what was there to wave? I’d have to rip a strip off my T-shirt. The shirt was black.

“No one will notice a strip of black cloth waving from the chicken house door.”

Now all this time I knew that if I got REALLY desperate I could always break the screen door or knock the screens off the window and crawl out; but breakage necessitates “fixage,” so busting anything would be my absolute last attempt at freedom.

It was time for another perusal of the coup. What natural resources were available? Twenty years ago, when we fixed up this chicken house, cleaning it out, reroofing it, adding a new door and a real window that opened and closed, we’d left a “partition” of sorts that a previous owner had put across part of the room.

“It’s quaint,” I said.

“It’s sorta cute,” my sister added as she eyed two old doors nailed in place, complete with unused hinges and doorknob.

Was there anything useful here?

Sure enough, there was a piece of wire — not skinny baling wire but something like electric wire that had some heft to it. It was just hanging in a lazy loop from the now-ornamental doorknob, waiting to come in handy.

I was able to bend the wire, poke it through the screen toward the offending latch and, with one hand poking and one finger pushing the wire, I knocked the latch free of the outside door jam.

It didn’t move far; but far enough to get out. Whew, walking OUT was great!

There are lots of things that conspire to keep us inadvertently locked in. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s lack of money, sometimes it’s circumstances or a knee gone aching.

Anytime we’re stuck somewhere, it’s disconcerting and seems like forever even if it’s only a few minutes — like my time in the chicken coup.

The challenge is to find some way to get out. We can do it! It’s just another day for country ingenuity to triumph.

Last modified March 25, 2015

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