Coming Home to Roost

This past week John and I prepared for our birds to come home to roost.  Dana and Paul (my sister and bro-in-law) gave us their small coop, since their new chicken tractor arrived this week.  John went over to pick up the coop on Thursday, and we got it all set up with an attached pen.  I bought a waterer, a feeder, wood shavings, some electrolyte formula to cure moving stress, a bag of feed, oyster shell grit.  Dana gave me a container of dried meal worms.  John helped me assemble everything.  I built a perch.  Ready!

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Last night at dusk, I drove over to pick up the birds.  We figured it would be easier (or possible) to pick them up from the coop once they were asleep.  Paul donned a pair of gloves and plucked the first chicken from the coop.  She flapped her wings and popped right up out of that box and took off.  Lesson learned.  Box covered tightly.  Birds 2 through 4 deposited successfully into box.  Bird 1 wandered back into coop, Paul was able to grab her and she went into the box with a little squawk.  I put them in the back of my Guzzler and drove home slowly.  Here in the mountains roads are narrow and curvy, it’s easy to pitch things around inside a vehicle when you don’t mean to.  I didn’t want to frighten the chicks by sliding them around, so I crept along at 25 m.p.h.  (Those of you who know me know that driving slow is uncharacteristic and therefore represents a special occasion.)  There was a little chirping and jostling in the box, but chickens travel MUCH more calmly than cats.

I was concerned about the birds escaping as I tried to put them in the coop.  John came outside with a flashlight when I got home.  I carried the box out back and opened the door to the coop.  I peeled back one flap of the box top and picked up a bird.  She muttered a little but didn’t struggle.  I set her down in the wood shavings and she went to sleep instantly.  I had to nudge her along to fit the next bird in.  And so it went.  Quiet and calm, the whole transition took about 2 minutes.  I closed the door and locked it tight.  We went into the house and I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m.

day one

That came early.  John said, “Get up, chicken lady.”  I put on a hoodie, grabbed a big mug of coffee and a blanket, dragged a chair out to the coop.  I opened the sliding hatch so the birds could walk down the ramp and discover their new home.  How odd must it be to awaken in the house you know in a different place.  A “Wizard of Oz” house drop moment for the birds.  It was chilly for sitting outside, 38 degrees and damp, but I wanted to see how the birds reacted so I took a seat and waited.  My husband was kind enough to photograph the stylish, crazy, chicken lady from a window.

IMG_7746Two of the chicks were taken from their Mama whose name is Baby.  The other two were taken from the little flock they hatched with, they spent a month in a container growing together.  They all came out of the coop confidently, but about half way down the ramp realized they were on a new planet and applied the brakes.  Baby’s babies are older, hatched while Dana and Paul were in Italy last fall.  I think they are about 4 or 5 months old.  The other two came from Tractor Supply and are about 5 or 6 weeks old.  The Tractor Supply chicks adapted quickly.  They were immediately happy, hungry, and curious.  Not at all disturbed by their new surroundings.  Baby’s babies were nervous, missing Mama and the sibling left behind.  They were tentative and confused. They were also free range before and woke up penned today.  After a half hour or so they all settled down and began eating clover and tender spring grass and drinking their electrolyte water.  They found the feeder full of chick starter pellets.  I gave them Greek yogurt and bananas because they are used to fancy breakfasts.  I enjoyed listening to their cooing and chirping, watching them eat, discovery of the perch, the water, the yogurt.  Each bird has a unique personality.  Their combs are just beginning to appear as little pink vertical ridges atop their heads.  They’re cute.

I named one chicken today.  The black-green Sumatra looks like a raven, which reminded me of the Edgar Allan Poe poem “The Raven.”   So she became Poe.

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“And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!”

Our insane kitten, Rory Gallagher got excited about BIRDS ON THE GROUND THAT DON’T FLY AWAY!  He began stalking, butt low to the ground, creeping up.  About 10 feet from the pen he realized these birds are BIG.  Way bigger than a field mouse!  He had second thoughts and shot way.  He came back, nose sniffing, tail twitching, sneaking… and took off!  This went on for most of the day.  He isn’t sure what to make of the easy prey he can’t get to.   And they out number him.  I’ll have to do some squirt gun training with him before I free range the birds.  They have to gain a few more pounds before it’s safe to let them out.  We are surrounded by wildlife, so I am in no rush to have them wander the property.

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Soon we’ll have fresh eggs!  Unless all four turn out to be roosters….

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4 Comments on “Coming Home to Roost”

  1. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    I’m so glad those chickies found a tender home….how awful it must be
    to be harshly shoved into a traditional chicken house. Those trailors stuffed full of bedragled fowl charging down the highway grieve me terribly.

    I’m glad you’re a kind and thoughtful chicken lady:) Those soon coming eggs or chicken dinners will be full of peace and clover and long sweet afternoons in the sun. Glad.

    Hope the kitty becomes a protector of the flock.
    Happy farming,
    Jennifer

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    Reply

  2. Jessie Says:

    You have such pretty chickies! Also, I found the Etsy shop that my mom used to purchase seed kits. It’s called Dig Dirt Cheap. I’ll just plop the link here since I can’t find you on facebook 😛 http://www.etsy.com/shop/DigDirtCheap?ref=shop_sugg

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    Reply

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