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Fri, Feb 2nd, 2001
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Editor’s note: After my story about the Runaway Chicken, a rooster who hitchhiked to Preston in the back of my pickup last October, was published a few weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed with comments from people who have seen (or heard) the bird.

Doctor Stephanie Jakim wrote in the Journal last week about the staff at the Olmsted Medical Clinic seeing the bird recently.

The latest on this story comes from Bryan Berg of Preston, whose family seems to have adopted the errant fowl. Here’s Bryan in his own words.

John Torgrimson


To the Editor,

My wife and I read John Torgrimson’s “Runaway Chicken” story (from the January 22, 2001 Journal), as well as Dr. Stephanie Jakim’s letter to the editor in the January 29th edition, and thoroughly enjoyed both. But more than that, we read them with more than a passing interest in this humorous, almost legendary story.

You see, my family has been sharing space with the creature in question since that fateful October morning when it hitched that now famous ride on the back of John’s pickup, and then made its fateful decision to hightail it up the hill toward the Olmsted Clinic building.

The rooster first made its presence known to us one morning when my wife, Connie, noticed something odd wandering near Water Treatment Plant #1 which is just across the street from our house. Because of the dip in the terrain there, we caught glimpses of a bird’s head and we both initially thought that a pheasant had made its way into town. We shared looks of disbelief when we realized that it was, indeed, a Bantam Rooster! This initial encounter took place just a couple days after Fillmore Central’s Homecoming game, and so we chalked this rooster’s in-town presence to being the result of a prank.

Interestingly, we soon found out that no such prank had taken place (nobody else had seen any other poultry running around town), and over the next few days the rooster made more appearances: strutting up and down by our side of the fence one day; being chased by a couple of the neighbor children on another; another sighting across the street some days later; and frightening it out of some small evergreens when I took out the garbage on another evening.

Still, we just never gave him much thought. After all, what exactly do you do about a chicken? He had been a very polite neighbor up to that point. the neighbor’s cat was more of a nuisance and even that wasn’t much to speak of. Then, one morning, we learned that our relationship with this bird was about to become more intimate than we had anticipated. You’ve already guessed it. He began crowing.

He’d probably been crowing every morning since his escape from John’s pickup, we just hadn’t heard him until this point. The crowing was rather noticeable (what crowing wouldn’t be?), and it was obvious even to a city boy such as myself, that the thing had to be quite close to the house. As it turned out, he was. As I headed out on my way to the garage I spied him perched, or roosting rather, quite contentedly about midway up one of the evergreens that encircle our backyard. All I could do was smile and shake my head.

As the days went by, we’d notice him in the backyard from time to time, usually cautiously approaching our birdfeeder, and then scratching and pecking at the leftovers the finches had left on the ground. Our usually aggressive little red squirrels were noticeably absent, and the finches would even watch in amazement from the branches and powerlines. And, of course, ever day before sunrise he’d let out a series of good morning crowings. Our little daughter, Kelsey, who just turned two, has grown to anticipate his vocalizations, and now even asks, “Where chicken go?” to go along with, “Chicken nice!” when she sees him.

And like Dr. Jakim, our friends wouldn’t believe us at first either. I made the comment at one of our monthly card-playing gatherings that everyone ought to swing by and see “our” Rooster. This resulted in a literal explosion of laughter. Comments like, “You’re kidding!” and “Are you sure it’s a rooster?” followed. Another round of laughter came when I stated something like, “It sure is a pretty bird,though!” I also remember asking everyone what we should do about the thing, especially since it had decided to make our backyard its new residence. Everyone stared blankly at this question. Nobody had a clue. Someone brought up the police, and that brought, “What the heck would the police do with a chicken?” That pretty much settled it. For better or worse, we had ourselves a rooster in the backyard!

I did throw out a little pile of birdseed near what seemed to be his favorite tree, concerned about what he might find to eat, especially with winter approaching. But the rooster has now given me the impression that he would get along quite well with or without my charity (either that or the staff at the clinic are giving out handouts too!). To be honest, I was not sure how he’d fare during the December snowfalls, but he’s still doing quite well, if his strong crowing this morning was any indication!

All in all, our new neighbor has been quite a conversation piece, and even helpful. He unwittingly helped me to shoo out the neighbor’s cat one afternoon. I had done this by accidentally scaring the rooster while trying to get to the cat and the poor cat just about climbed our fence in his desperation to get out of our backyard and away from the flapping, sqauwking, multi-colored monster I had unleashed o it.

Naturally he has been the subject of good-natured “grilling” jokes, and one friend even made the observation that, with my hunting skills (or lack thereof), if I waited long enough, even I might be able to “bag” this rooster in his confined area (although I doubt it; he has no qualms about taking flight when he needs to). The rooster even made his way into our Christmas letter.

Even so, I think the rooster does belong back with his brood. I figure that the poor guy has got to be getting somewhat lonely. And now that I have learned about his rightful owner’s plight, I think we may be able to finally reunite them and put a close on this strange story. Dr. Jakim, you put the capturing party together. John, you bring the pickup (and some good looking hens). I’ll gather the last of the “disbelievers” to witness the event, and when it’s all done I’ll fire up the grill and we can all enjoy porkchops, venison, turkey or a good steak. Anything but chicken!

Bryan Berg
Preston, MN
Editor’s note: After my story about the Runaway Chicken, a rooster who hitchhiked to Preston in the back of my pickup last October, was published a few weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed with comments from people who have seen (or heard) the bird.

Doctor Stephanie Jakim wrote in the Journal last week about the staff at the Olmsted Medical Clinic seeing the bird recently.

The latest on this story comes from Bryan Berg of Preston, whose family seems to have adopted the errant fowl. Here’s Bryan in his own words.

John Torgrimson


To the Editor,

My wife and I read John Torgrimson’s “Runaway Chicken” story (from the January 22, 2001 Journal), as well as Dr. Stephanie Jakim’s letter to the editor in the January 29th edition, and thoroughly enjoyed both. But more than that, we read them with more than a passing interest in this humorous, almost legendary story.

You see, my family has been sharing space with the creature in question since that fateful October morning when it hitched that now famous ride on the back of John’s pickup, and then made its fateful decision to hightail it up the hill toward the Olmsted Clinic building.

The rooster first made its presence known to us one morning when my wife, Connie, noticed something odd wandering near Water Treatment Plant #1 which is just across the street from our house. Because of the dip in the terrain there, we caught glimpses of a bird’s head and we both initially thought that a pheasant had made its way into town. We shared looks of disbelief when we realized that it was, indeed, a Bantam Rooster! This initial encounter took place just a couple days after Fillmore Central’s Homecoming game, and so we chalked this rooster’s in-town presence to being the result of a prank.

Interestingly, we soon found out that no such prank had taken place (nobody else had seen any other poultry running around town), and over the next few days the rooster made more appearances: strutting up and down by our side of the fence one day; being chased by a couple of the neighbor children on another; another sighting across the street some days later; and frightening it out of some small evergreens when I took out the garbage on another evening.

Still, we just never gave him much thought. After all, what exactly do you do about a chicken? He had been a very polite neighbor up to that point. the neighbor’s cat was more of a nuisance and even that wasn’t much to speak of. Then, one morning, we learned that our relationship with this bird was about to become more intimate than we had anticipated. You’ve already guessed it. He began crowing.

He’d probably been crowing every morning since his escape from John’s pickup, we just hadn’t heard him until this point. The crowing was rather noticeable (what crowing wouldn’t be?), and it was obvious even to a city boy such as myself, that the thing had to be quite close to the house. As it turned out, he was. As I headed out on my way to the garage I spied him perched, or roosting rather, quite contentedly about midway up one of the evergreens that encircle our backyard. All I could do was smile and shake my head.

As the days went by, we’d notice him in the backyard from time to time, usually cautiously approaching our birdfeeder, and then scratching and pecking at the leftovers the finches had left on the ground. Our usually aggressive little red squirrels were noticeably absent, and the finches would even watch in amazement from the branches and powerlines. And, of course, ever day before sunrise he’d let out a series of good morning crowings. Our little daughter, Kelsey, who just turned two, has grown to anticipate his vocalizations, and now even asks, “Where chicken go?” to go along with, “Chicken nice!” when she sees him.

And like Dr. Jakim, our friends wouldn’t believe us at first either. I made the comment at one of our monthly card-playing gatherings that everyone ought to swing by and see “our” Rooster. This resulted in a literal explosion of laughter. Comments like, “You’re kidding!” and “Are you sure it’s a rooster?” followed. Another round of laughter came when I stated something like, “It sure is a pretty bird,though!” I also remember asking everyone what we should do about the thing, especially since it had decided to make our backyard its new residence. Everyone stared blankly at this question. Nobody had a clue. Someone brought up the police, and that brought, “What the heck would the police do with a chicken?” That pretty much settled it. For better or worse, we had ourselves a rooster in the backyard!

I did throw out a little pile of birdseed near what seemed to be his favorite tree, concerned about what he might find to eat, especially with winter approaching. But the rooster has now given me the impression that he would get along quite well with or without my charity (either that or the staff at the clinic are giving out handouts too!). To be honest, I was not sure how he’d fare during the December snowfalls, but he’s still doing quite well, if his strong crowing this morning was any indication!

All in all, our new neighbor has been quite a conversation piece, and even helpful. He unwittingly helped me to shoo out the neighbor’s cat one afternoon. I had done this by accidentally scaring the rooster while trying to get to the cat and the poor cat just about climbed our fence in his desperation to get out of our backyard and away from the flapping, sqauwking, multi-colored monster I had unleashed o it.

Naturally he has been the subject of good-natured “grilling” jokes, and one friend even made the observation that, with my hunting skills (or lack thereof), if I waited long enough, even I might be able to “bag” this rooster in his confined area (although I doubt it; he has no qualms about taking flight when he needs to). The rooster even made his way into our Christmas letter.

Even so, I think the rooster does belong back with his brood. I figure that the poor guy has got to be getting somewhat lonely. And now that I have learned about his rightful owner’s plight, I think we may be able to finally reunite them and put a close on this strange story. Dr. Jakim, you put the capturing party together. John, you bring the pickup (and some good looking hens). I’ll gather the last of the “disbelievers” to witness the event, and when it’s all done I’ll fire up the grill and we can all enjoy porkchops, venison, turkey or a good steak. Anything but chicken!

Bryan Berg
Preston, MN

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