June 21, 2013
The chicken coop is finally done! Well, mostly. Minus a few minor adjustments and cosmetic touches, the coop is finished and fully functional, and the chickens are sleeping in the hen house at night instead of their basement brooder, which we promptly tore down. It was nice to reclaim all that space in the basement again.
These ladies still haven't figured out the new system, unfortunately. The night we finished their coop, we were out working on it until there was barely any sunlight left. By the time we were done and ready to put them in for the night, they were all huddled outside the basement door, ready to be let in for bed. These are creatures of habit, no doubt.
We snatched them up, and brought them up to the doorway of the hen house thinking they might go inside on their own. They wouldn't budge.
They were almost stubborn about it, squawking and flapping their wings every time we tried to coax one further in. Eventually, we grabbed Starbuck, the leader in their pecking order, and placed her up on the perch. She settled in and closed her eyes almost immediately while the others filed in after her. Not only are chickens creatures of habit, but they're also highly suggestible.
After watching them for a few minutes to make sure they were all sleeping, we closed the door and went in for the night, satisfied that they would be safe and warm, and enjoy their first night of total darkness.
The next morning, Matt went out before work and opened their hen house door that leads down the ramp into their run. When I checked on them an hour later, they were still in the hen house, but they were all awake and eating their food. They would sometimes huddle up near the door, but it didn't seem like they were ready to go down, so I decided to wait and see what would happen. I gave them another hour and a half before I finally went out and coaxed one of them down the ramp. Seconds later, they were all down and sitting on their perch in the run.
Later that day, I went out to the coop to bring the girls some food scraps. Instead of jumping down from their perch to gobble up their treat like usual, however, they all remained where they were, craning their necks while curiously staring at my offering. Eventually, Amelia Pond (the flier) flew up on my lap and ate while the others made a ruckus. It took me a minute, but I finally realized what the problem was: they were afraid of the straw we spread throughout their coop, and were acting like it was lava.
I took Amy down from my lap and placed her on the straw, but she immediately jumped back up to The Perch of Safety, so I grabbed Starbuck instead, and brought her down to where the food was. She was like Mmm, food! and started eating right away, and not two seconds later, the rest jumped off the perch to eat with her.
Conclusion: these chickens are big chickens. That said, I think they are very happy with their new accommodations, even if they haven't quite figured it all out yet.
Stay tuned for next week's chicken update, where I'll reveal the finished coop in full detail. Until then, have a great weekend, and happy first day of summer!