Back at the Chicken Shack

The chicken pasture has been a lively place this summer. Since the Littles have moved in to the big coop each day has been full of squabbles, hilarity, and new traditions for the Pleasant Hill flock.

Penfold is still a little devil, I often call her my Captain of Badness. She is frequently found doing everything she shouldn’t – pulling feathers out of the Littles, getting out of the fence, and generally leading the other hen’s astray. I don’t care, I love her anyway – she could probably peck out one of my eyes and I’d still see no wrong in her.

Quigley, Zillah, and Danger – or the Littles as we call them – are still as tight as ever. Danger is the head of their little tribe and Quigley just wants to be everyone’s friend, while Zillah likes to spend time with Andy.

Two of our younger cousins like to come by to see the Littles on the weekends. Danger is Katie’s favorite, and I am absolutely perplexed at how a five year old can catch that chicken faster than I can!

All of the big girls are moulting and they look like a ratty band of box car children. Charlie is 500 times more grouchy than usual – which is really saying something since she is the ‘ take no prisoners ‘ type.

If you even look at her she growls in protest. A few nights back Andy was, apparently, sitting on the roosting spot that she wanted – so she just pecked him in the head and face until he finally gave up and moved away.

Poor Andy. He tries so hard to be a good protector for his little harem of biddy’s. Lately he’s started this new tradition of carving out some ‘personal time’ for himself each day.

So, what exactly does ‘personal time’ look like for a rooster? Well, in Andy’s case, he has his special corner of the hen house under the nesting boxes. He crawls in, makes a nest, faces the corner, and stays crammed in that tiny space for about 15 minutes…probably pretending that the rest of the world does not exist.

As the day draws to a close, everyone heads back the the hen house – ready to squabble and growl over who is going to sleep next to whom on the roost. Andy stands like a bastion on the hill, making sure that everyone gets inside – it’s time to shut the place down for the night.

As the sun sets, the hen house gets quiet. Occasionally you hear one of Penfold or Quigley’s long trills or Charlie growling over someone sleeping too close by….and Stephen and I trek back up to the house ready to call it a day ourselves.

Advertisements

I’ve got sand in my shoes

As a chicken keeper, I’ve learned chickens don’t handle change that well. It’s one of those things, like flock integration, that just takes time.

Recently we’ve had a lot of rain, resulting in a soppy chicken pasture and a soppy chicken run. In an effort to remedy this pile of muck, I thought a change in the run flooring was in order.

Well, over the weekend (while planting 3,000 trees ….with lots of family help….at Stephen’s grandmother’s home in the sandhills of SC) I came up with a genius idea that I knew would be perfect. We would simply take several boxes of sand back home with us!

“The chickens will be so excited!” I thought, “They love scratching around in Stephen’s compost pile…..sand has got to be way better than that.”

So in went the sand, in one big, happy pile…..just waiting for chickens to come scratch, wallow, and play. The chickens approached and stopped at the door. No one went any further. They backed away wary. Not even their favorite treat could bring them close to the pile of sand.

The chickens were terrified. The floor was different. The poor chickens didn’t know what to do!

All great changes are preceded by chaos –

Eventually nighttime arrived, and none of the chickens could bring themselves to walk past the pile of sand to get in the coop. Stephen and I caved, and we walked down to the coop and helped each chicken past the sand and into the house where they sleepily went to roost.

My guess is that they’ll have to figure out what to do with the sand tomorrow. Like people, chickens apparently need time to adjust to big changes, sand being a “big change” in the eyes of chickens.