State

Chicken on the lam is no match for neighbors on social media

When one of Paul Blanck’s backyard chickens got over his fence, Blanck took to social media to ask his South Plaza neighbors for help. She was still on the run when this photo was taken.
When one of Paul Blanck’s backyard chickens got over his fence, Blanck took to social media to ask his South Plaza neighbors for help. She was still on the run when this photo was taken. The Kansas City Star

Those who believe social media to be mostly silliness have obviously never lost a chicken.

That would bring them around. Take Paul Blanck. When he saw chicken prints go across freshly fallen snow and suddenly stop cold in the middle of the backyard, several feet from a weathered privacy fence, he knew what to do.

Blanck, who lives just south of the Country Club Plaza, first took roll. He had six hens. Only five were present. That’s one short.

He’s a certified public accountant.

Now in journalism, sometimes the best thing a writer can do is get out of the way. So here is the story of Blanck and his missing chicken, as told through posts on Nextdoor, a social media site for neighborhoods.

He went public Tuesday:

“One of my hens is missing. She is brown. She must have gotten out the morning after the snow, but I did not realize it until today. I let them out the morning of the snow to play and I think she was startled by a cat and flew over the fence.

“She will probably be in the front or back yard of a house within one block of the corner of Main and 53rd street or Main and Concord. So if you find chicken prints in the snow, she is probably still around. She is more likely to be in an area where she can find water (outside dog bowls, melting snow). Her footprints will look like peace signs without the circle around them.

“I have a fishing net on a 3 foot pole, so if you see her or her footprints please call me and I can catch her easy enough. I am not worried about the cold, but I am worried about water. So please call if you see signs of her.

Someone quickly responded:

“I saw prints in my parents’ driveway yesterday — I remember thinking how odd the prints were — that they looked like chicken prints! … Didn’t see or hear your hen though.”

Then another:

“Saw the chicken and yes it was front of Casey house and walked on west to the next house. It was near dusk yesterday.”

Then:

“There are definitely prints on my back deck. Last night she had a meal of the dry cat food that was set out for the neighbor’s cat. That cat, by the way, does not have claws. It all suggests she is still alive.”

Somebody later asked for a status report:

“Paul, have you found your hen yet? Please keep us informed! I’m watching out for her!!”

Blanck responded:

“I still have not found her. She had been at 10 W 53rd where she had laid an egg. But that was on Sunday. … I am driving the streets each day whenever I am coming or going just hoping to find her walking in a front yard. My fear is that the cold is freezing any water before she can get to it.”

Then came this clue, from someone else:

“So 2 nites ago my little white barky dog was outside in our yard, and all of a sudden she took off chasing something across the big open yard on 54th Street. … She ran up to the one corner of that yard and then returned. I thought she was probably chasing a rabbit. So my suggestion is to walk through the back of that yard on 54th Street. I think think there may be a lot of leaves/brush near the back, which might be a good warm spot for her to hang out. I HAVE NOT SEEN HER, so I don’t want to create false hope.

“Good luck, Paul. My eyes are peeled for the liggle brown hen!!”

The thought here is that the last poster meant “little” brown hen. A Google search informs that “liggle” means to laugh and giggle at the same time, but the thought of a runaway hen laughing and giggling while scouring yards in the south Plaza area for cat food and dog water is too horrifying to imagine.

Friday morning, the news of the missing hen, five days gone, was not good.

“Still haven’t found her,” Blanck said in his kitchen.

To think this anguish started with millipedes. Blanck said his family’s place at the Lake of the Ozarks became infested with the nuisance bugs.

To get rid of them, Blanck’s research told him to get some chickens.

It worked. But then he had bonded with the chickens.

“No,” his wife, Jennifer, told him when he asked to bring them home to Kansas City.

He asked again. Same answer.

Finally she wavered.

So the flock now roosts beneath a large wooden play set in the backyard, and the Blancks, who have four children, collect three or four eggs a day. A hen has gotten out before but has always been returned.

Paul Blanck hadn’t given up on this hen.

“She’s out there, somewhere,” he said. “Funny, I never gave her a name. Never had her long enough.

“She comes back, I’ll give her a name.”

Well, she didn’t come back.

Not on her own, anyway.

But Caroline Chang spotted the bird in her backyard and let Blanck know.

Soon he, his son and his daughter arrived to give chase, zigzagging back and forth as the wily bird tried to maintain its freedom. They lost sight of her. Then spotted her again.

And finally nabbed her.

“My chicken has been found!” Blanck posted. “I want to say thank you to everybody for keeping an eye out for her.”

Readers expressed relief.

“Happy to hear she survived the cold in good condition,” one wrote.

“Nice catch,” penned another.

One chore still awaits farmer Blanck.

Picking an appropriate name.

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send e-mail to dbradley@kcstar.com.

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