Thursday, May 08, 2008

Adventures with Chickens

Loving husband built me a chicken coop. (Technically, he built a chicken coop for the chickens so that I wouldn't have to build it myself, but you knew what I meant, right?)

Isn't it nifty?

One of the way cool things about the chicken coop is the ramp. The idea is that during the day the chickens run around in the bottom pen, then go up the ramp into the coop to roost. The ramp raises and lowers so that the chickens will be shut up safely at night.

Here's the problem: The insult "birdbrain" was coined for a reason. And, quite frankly, chickens aren't exactly the Einsteins of the bird world.

The chicks can't figure out how to go up and down the ramp.

After two nights of crawling under the coop to push them up the ramp, I think to myself, "There's got to be a better way." Last night I had the bright idea of coaxing them up the ramp with food so that they get the idea of walking up the ramp all by themselves, only to find themselves -Surprise!- in their cozy chicken haven.

I opened the side door of the coop:

I reach into the coop with my arm stretched as far as it can go down the ramp. Instead of the nice pristine floor you see in the picture, there are shavings and....well, chickens aren't potty-trained.

"Here chick-chick-chick!"

They know my voice. I wasn't kidding in the first chicken coop post when I pretended they were calling me "Mom." They think I'm some kind of giant chicken with weird feathers and a cluck impediment. So they perked up and started looking for food.

Inching up the ramp bit-by-bit, I coax the two smartest chickens ("smartest" being relative, of course) into the coop. Woo-hoo! They settle right down into the corner together, snuggling chicken fluffballs.

Two down, two to go.

Another problem: Not only are chickens dumber than a fencepost, they're also flock animals. At this point the two chicks below realize that they've been separated from half their flock. Never mind that they watched their companions climb the ramp up to chicken heaven, all they can think is "Our friends are gone!" and run around frantically cheeping as though the sky is falling. The frenzy of the chicks below alarms the chicks above, and they completely lose their minds as well. The place that they can best hear one another is through the crack in the floor---ceiling--depending on where they are, so the chicks, above and below are running back and forth along the edge of the coop.

To recap, picture this:
Me, stretched all the way inside the coop by now in an attempt to distracted the crazed chicks below with food, lying in God-only-knows-what (ok, I know what too, but I'm trying not to think about it) with chicks frantically jumping in my hair.

Not one of my finer moments.

I gave up and crawled under the coop to retrieve the remaining chicks. "Oh, thank God! It's you, giant weird chicken Mom!" they said when they saw me. Not in so many words, obviously, but I could tell. I managed to scoop them both up, wriggle my way back out from under the coop, free one hand to open the side door by tucking a struggling chick under my arm, and put them to bed.

Stupid chickens.

Tonight I was gone until after dark. I left the ramp down. When I came home I went out to put them to bed. Inside the coop there was a cozy ball of chickens snuggled together.

All by themselves.

Hey! I heard that! Who ya callin' birdbrain?


Piseco said...

Oh, giant weird chicken Mom, you sure do tell a good story! You've got me laughing in my jammies. :D

Mellybell said...

Cat, you are hilarious, but might I say that you have one fantastic looking chicken coop!
:) Mel

Sara said...

I love the chicken ark! I'm trying to build myself a new coop right now, and I'm envious of your finished product. It looks great.

Heather said...

Hello, my friend (Piseco)told me to come look at your chickens since I've been posting about mine! I thought about the ark myself but I decided to go a bit bigger so I can add more birds in the coming years. So far I just have 6 chicks and they are currently in a dog kennel in our house until they get a few more feathers (and my husband finishes their house). Glad to know I'm not the only crazy mom with chickens.

living in PA said...

Too funny!!! Glad they figured it out. :-)

Cristy said...

Hey, you have enough kids to know how they act when they don't want to go to bed. But Moooooom, it's still light out!
Hee hee hee

Kristine said...

Your chicken posts are GREAT, thanks for posting the link on WTM. It cracks me up that they think you're the mom. Dh and I keep throwing around the idea of chickens, and this was a great read!