CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — A Mississippi teen who lost his Civil War-reenacting pet chicken Peep outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Alabama was reunited with the bird courtesy of a farmer who helped find the fowl.
Thomas Ramsey, who founded a military reenactment group for youth, told The Cullman Times he was headed home from a weekend event at Spring Hill, Tennessee, when he stopped with a friend at the restaurant in Cullman on Jan. 31. He left Peep, a rooster that participates in simulated battles, tied to his truck in the parking lot.
Ramsey, 18, said he and his friend walked out about an hour later to discover the chicken had flown the coop and was nowhere to be seen.
“I went back into the Cracker Barrel and it was very hard for me to say this with a straight face, even though I was panicking: ‘Do you have cameras in the parking lot? I think someone stole my chicken,’” said Ramsey, of Copiah County south of Jackson.
Someone overheard and said they had seen Peep wandering in the parking lot. An animal control officer got involved in the hunt and “missing chicken” photos of Peep soon spread on social media pages around Cullman, a city of about 16,000 people 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Birmingham.
With no sign of Peep, Ramsey continued the drive home. Then he got a message that the bird had been found outside the Cracker Barrel and farmer John Watson, who posted advice on catching Peep, had the rooster and was headed to Birmingham to meet Ramsey for a reunion.
“I believe in paying it forward,” said Watson. “God has blessed my family so much throughout the years, I believe we should be kind to our fellow man. Yes, it was ‘just a chicken,’ but it was his and he clearly cared for it.”
Ramsey said Civil War soldiers sometimes had animals with them on the battlefield, so he takes Peep to reenactments. During the first one Peep attended, he said, the bird got out of a bag and wandered around during simulated battle.
“There’s about 10 cannons just blazing and all the rifle fire and he’s not going crazy. He’s pretty chill,” Ramsey said.