Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Roost ~ Old Hens

Freshened up and ready for the flock.

Last night was the third night for the chickens with their new roost and shelter. The thing is, our roost is new, but our hens are old. And chickens are creatures of habit, with very wee noggins, so it takes a bit of negotiating and manipulating to get them into new routines.

See Trillian, the golden Ameraucana? She's roosting on the tension cable. That is the spot where most of the hens roosted, back when I provided them with a cottage and actual roosts, and other suitable refuges. Even in the middle of our worst storms, I would rush to their aid, and discover them all, beaks and breasts to the gale, swinging and clinging to that cable, and mad as wet hens. Crazy birds, indeed. But with the old cottage out, and the shade cloth taken down, too, they have no easy way of reaching that slim cable, and on this third night, only Trillian managed the feat of flying up and nailing her landing.

Cocky little hen. Two hens, Liberty and Emma Thompson, opted to sleep in the nest box. And four hens, the ones I manually placed on the roost the first, and second, night, had it figured out... Fiona, Mako, Koa, and Momma Thomson were settled in on the new roost. Only the two Wyandotte hens, Pepper and Pippi, were pacing and eye-balling the cable. Those two hens are pretty sure of themselves, and have not taken kindly to my interference in their bedtime routines. I managed to park Pippi on the roost. She was not happy about it, but she finally calmed herself, and stayed put.

Pepper paced and squawked, and kept measuring the cable. You can practically see the gears turn, hear the motor hum, in their tiny heads, when they are calculating a move. She decided to approach the second cable, from an old pine trunk. She studied her target, measured the distance, took wind speed and direction into account, and I waited for her to make the attempt. I've diagrammed the scene for you...

"Spot where Pepper almost lost her head..." that was not a pleasant thing to witness. Her plan may have been sound but the execution was almost a beheading. She slammed into the cable, neck first, then fell gracelessly. I would have been about 75% more concerned and sympathetic if Pepper weren't such a mean chicken. I think she must have some bounce to her, because she walked off and looked ready to try again, but I intervened.

This is your roost, now, Pepper. And it seemed she'd never stopped squawking her objection.

Hello, clucked Fiona, amiably.

Cluck-off, squawked Pepper, anxiously. I'm flying the coop!

She paced and squawked, shifted, and huffed, until the light faded, and she could not see the ground, or any reason to jump, after all. I suspect she woke up with the rising sun, and fancied she'd always roosted in this spot, and always will. With a little negotiating, and a little manipulating, even an old hen can settle into a new roost routine.

Tasha and Ada have had an easier time adjusting to their new shelter. Their only concern is that Geoff installed a hose, and to their dismay, I was hosing off fences and equipment. Water! Shudder! Our dear ungulates think water, especially the kind that splashes and sprays, is the worst, most cringeworthy substance imaginable. Neither of them got a drop wet, but long after I put the hose away, they approached warily, deeply concerned.

All clear, Ada. You're safe.

All clear, all safe, and oh-so beautiful.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Natalie, it made my day! This little narrative would make a great book.... and not just for chicken and goat fans. It's hilarious, especially the picture with the bubbles. Beautiful pictures, amusing narrative. The new digs are pretty impressive,too. It looks like they will make caring for the critters a lot easier. Ruth