Dad came come with a box after work one Friday. It made noises. It pecked and poked and feathers flew out of it. My seven-year old sister and I were drawn to it. Something was alive in there! It was the start of our crazy pheasant weekend. When my dad brought home four live pheasants. To eat on Sunday.
Having pheasants in our Suburbia neighborhood is akin to the Clampetts moving to Californee. In a block of cookie-cutter houses, where everyone knew everything that everybody else did, the pheasants caused quite a stir. While my dad built a wire mesh cage for them, my sister and I squatted by the box. Peering in, trying not to get pecked. We'd throw in corn kernels for the pheasants. My sister was looking forward to eating her birdie on Sunday. Poor "Amy" would never realize her savory dream.
The pheasants were awfully pretty birds, with long tail feathers and graceful necks. Necks that would easily succomb to the cleaver or axe. In the wire cage they strutted and pecked each other. They made a lot of noise. That summer, our house was a popular one, attracting kids from all around. Some however, had more ideas than simply looking at the birds.
Late that evening, we discovered someone had cut through the wire fence. The more environmentally conscious and wildlife-loving kids had decided to liberate our dinner. I don't think they knew the birds were farm-raised and therefore clipped so they couldn't fly. What would these birds do to survive in an asphalt wliderness? Mom and Dad and my brother dashed out to round up the birds and bring them home. I don't know how they did it. It must've been like watching a greased pig contest at a country fair. All three of them running around with sheets and blankets chasing these goofy looking creatures.
Only three birds came back whole. The fourth apparently made some local dog very happy.
The next evening, the same situation happened. Free birds. Frantic family chasing poultry. Only two came back that time. A car struck and killed the third. Maybe it was trying to hitchhike to the Poconos.
I can't remember what happened to the other two birds. I think one eventually escaped to the nearby woods where he established a long-term relationship with a native phemale pheasant. The fourth, my parents still fight about what happened to the fourth. And by the time they get to that part of the story I'm laughing so hard I don't really care.
I do remember how much "Amy" cried when she realized she wouldn't get to eat her bird on Sunday. I don't think she knew it'd be running around the yard headless before it would magically appear on her plate. Maybe it's better she never knew.