Dumpling finds a home

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Homeless hen, originally adopted by fast food workers, now has permanent place to roost

By Shannon Watkins

Dumpling, the feral fowl that lived in the wooded area next to Long John Silver’s of Galax and enjoyed dining on their corn and hushpuppies, now dines off a menu of berries and other treats at her new home.

Heather Nichols of Woodlawn has adopted the chicken, who she says is adjusting well to a life of (very pampered) captivity.

According to Nichols, she saw a post in a local Facebook message group that said someone needed to come get Dumpling, as the chicken was named by the fast food workers who temporarily adopted her.

April West, who works at another nearby business, posted the call to rescue the little hen, and said of it, “I would see [Dumpling] daily on my way into work. I’m glad it now has a new home.”

“Me and my daughter just had to go get her, because we, the chicken lovers, just can’t see something out like that, for something to kill it or it to get run over,” said Nichols.

Dumpling’s capture happened thusly: “We were going to the movies, and I asked the girls, ‘How are we going to get her?’ So I grabbed a tote bag and off we went.”

It takes cleverness to outsmart even a paltry poultry, but Nichols and her crew —daughter Landyn, 6; Landyn’s best friend, Ashlynn Smith, 7; and family friend, Jeff Grass — were up to the task.

“This will be something for her to always look back on,” said Nichols about Landyn’s experience.

“It took us a little bit to get her, but we were determined we were taking her,” said Nichols. “So she ended up flying in the bushes, and then I was able to grab her. So I put her in the car.”

It seems Dumpling knew her roaming days were over and decided to make the best of the situation, Nichols said. “She just stayed there and was eating crackers.”

Her move paid off; now she lives at Nichols’ home with two other chickens, Blabber Mouth and Big Girl.

“They are my little girl’s babies,” said Nichols of the chickens. “Dumpling is very happy. It took a day or so for them all to get along, but now they’re best friends.”

Perhaps the best news is that Dumpling eats even better than before.

“They get morning and evening snacks,” in addition to regular feed and scratching for grubs, said Nichols. “If it’s cold, I’ll make them warm oatmeal in the morning. They love strawberries and blueberries, lettuce, tomatoes and all kinds of fruit, but they really love white rice with a little sugar, and spaghetti noodles.”

She admitted, “I spoil them just a little.”

Of Dumpling, Nichols added, “She is doing great, and she is so loved.”

Is there any chance Dumpling will live up to her name and wind up on a dinner plate?

“Lord, no! Never,” said Nichols.

None of the chickens will, in fact: “They’re our pets.”

It’s not certain if Dumpling will repay Nichols’ kindness by laying eggs; she hasn’t yet, but hens don’t necessarily produce much in the winter. But in terms of pure good luck, it seems that Dumpling got the golden egg.