Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Which Ed and Red Go to Bed in a Shed

Or not.  Because, as I may have mentioned before, my newest chickens--- those who have refrained from being eaten, that is---are a couple of dim bulbs.  When last I posted about them (here) we were trying to get them to sleep inside their shiny new mini-coop.*  They eventually caught on, but not until I moved their food and water inside too.

A few weeks ago, I cut a passage between the two runs, which have a common fence.  The idea was to let the girls mingle with the ladies so that peace and harmony  could be established before they had to share the big coop for the winter.  There was some pecking at first, but they seem to have come to some sort of arrangement and everyone mixes freely during the day.  Still, Ed and Red (formerly Sunny and Lily --or Daisy, I forget which one got eaten-- but we'll get to that tomorrow) opted to remain in their own apartment at night and so far that has not been a real problem.

Now, though, with snow and freezing temperatures a very real threat, it's time for them to move into the big coop with the rest of the sorority, mostly because I am afraid that those two little bodies won't generate enough heat to keep them warm once the temperature really drops, but also because once the mornings get cold, I'm not interested in supplying food and water (which will freeze daily) to two coops.

HA,  they say.  We're not leaving our new digs.  You made it very clear that you wanted us to sleep inside our lovely new coop, and inside is where we will remain. Take that.

So I resorted to trickery.  Last night as the sun was going down, I noticed that all of the big girls had retired to the coop, but that Ed and Red had not yet gone to bed (ha!  good rhyme, no?). I snuck outside and raised the gangplank, which looks like this:


before they could get in. My theory was that they would naturally want to seek shelter from the cold temperature, and without access to their mini-coop, they would naturally opt to camp out in the big red coop, which contains food and water and 7 other warm and downy bodies.

Or not.  Because when I checked on them after sundown, they were trying to get comfy in the mud under their coop.

HA,  they said.  We're not falling for that trick.  You made it very clear that you wanted us to sleep inside our lovely new coop, but then you locked us out, so under is where we will remain. Take that.

Having a marginally longer memory than a chicken, I was not entirely surprised by this.  I parked the van near the coop and put on the lights, then I ducked into the run, grabbed a chicken, and stuffed her into the big coop through the trap door, which you can see on the left:


  Then I turned to grab the other chicken, and realized that they were about to outsmart me.  I had forgotten the untie the rope that keeps the trap door from closing and I  could not keep the first chicken from escaping the big coop and still  reach the other chicken.

HA, they said.  Who's the dim bulb now?

Point well taken.  Nonetheless, I am a resourceful keeper of chickens. I told the first one to stay, which she did.  I grabbed the ramp to the chickens' playhouse (don't ask), which you can just see on the right in this picture,


and used it to block most of the trap door.  I ducked through the hole in between the runs, which is a lot closer to chicken size than people size, and tried to grab Ed, who fled in terror.  Fortunately, she decided that the best way to get away from me was to run into the original chicken run where Red was waiting helpfully outside the big coop.

HA!!! They said . . .

 . . . at which point I cursed loudly at them and they both fled in terror into the big coop.

So there.  Score 1 for the chicken keeper.  We left the gangplank closed today so Ed and Red  wouldn't get any bright ideas (as if!) and El Husbando agreed to put them to bed tonight, because they still haven't given up on sleeping near the mini-coop.  I'm hoping that by tomorrow they will have the new sleeping arrangements all sorted out in their little feathery heads, but that might be giving them a bit too much credit.

p.s. In the time it took me to write this post, I could easily have knit an inch on my non-existent NaKniSweMo sweater.  Also, the cat stole the same ball of yellow cotton yarn from my weaving basket four times.  She only stole the green ball once. I can't decide whether this means that she likes the yellow and thinks I should include it in my next weaving project, or thinks it is a mistake and is trying to save me from an embarrassing color choice.

*As opposed to under, next to, or--heaven help us-- on top of their coop, all of which they would have tried long before they decided that in was the place to be. In this way, they bear a striking resemblance to my children and their relationship to the dishwasher.  Dishes routinely end up on, near, or next to the dishwasher, but inside the dishwasher remains a place of mystery and danger to all concerned. 

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