There’s clearly some confusion in the backyard these days. I don’t know if it’s the extra hours of sunlight, the warmer nights or just a desire for a change of scenery.
Whatever the reason, it’s a curious phenomenon that’s happening out there. Our birds stopped going in their coop.
When the sun sets and the neighborhood settles down, Susie Q, MaryAnne and Roz have a pretty simple routine. They gather in the run, often stopping for one last drink of water or a couple bites of feed. Then, the ladies march up the ramp and into their coop one by one, settling in to roost for the night. They coo contentedly and wait for the door to close securely behind them.
But lately, they’re not going in at all. In fact, instead of roosting in their coop, they’re roosting on their coop. The process is actually quite hilarious to watch (season two of Chicken TV).
Usually Susie is the first to ascend. She wiggles her bottom, revs up her wings and launches herself into the air before gliding down onto the peaked roof of the coop. Roz goes next. MaryAnne demonstrates a different technique. She gets a little distressed, seeing the other girls up so high while she remains below. She paces around the ground for a few minutes before flapping her wings and landing on top of the nesting box which hangs off the side of the coop. She regroups and makes the second leg of the journey to the roof.
And there they sit, often securing one another with their wings. The sky continues to darken, minute by minute, and they don’t move one bit.
And this means, instead of simply walking outside and locking up the coop, I find myself in a flapping, wind-blowing wrestling match every night. Because we have to pick up each individual hen and put her where she belongs, in the coop, safe and secure from predators.
It’s best to grab MaryAnne first, simply because she’s the most pleasant and doesn’t seem to object to my chicken-handling skills.
Roz feigns distaste for the situation by getting her wings going as I lower her down into the run.
And then there’s Susie. I have to take a deep breath before I get Susie. Just as she had no problem shoving her sisters out of the way in their brooder box as a week old chick, she likes to show me who’s the boss. She tenses up, her wings escape my fingers and she aggressively tries to escape from my grasp.
Sheesh, lady, I’m just trying to keep you out of the hungry mouth of a neighborhood raccoon.
Night after night, this is what’s going down. The neighbors are chuckling and I had to explain to the lovely house sitter that the chicken wrangling portion of her job would be a little more difficult this weekend.
My only hope? That these birds will tire of our evening encounters and take their little tail feathers into their house on their own.