Sunday, November 4, 2007

Farewell Freedom

The new chicken coop requires a few more minor repairs before it is completely winterized: A board near the base needs to be nailed back on. Grandpa's old nesting boxes will have to get hung on the back wall. The two lambing jug gates should get removed and a real roost should get installed in the corner. But for now, all chickens are accounted for and living in the coop.
The chickens are not that happy about it. They seem fairly bewildered by their new confinement. Since May they have had the run of the farm. They roosted anywhere they pleased (always somewhere I didn't want them to.) They laid their eggs in places only the dogs could find. And they made sure the path from the parking spot to the back door was thoroughly pooped upon.
Yesterday brought great excitement for us on the chicken front: For quite a while, two of our hens, (a barred and a buff Brahma) have been roosting in some secret place. Then a few days ago, the Brahma disappeared altogether. We were so disappointed to loose her just when we finally had a coop for more protection. I was heartbroken because buff Brahma bantams are my absolute favorite type of chicken.
Yesterday morning she turned up to scratch with the rest of the flock. A while later, our youngest son called us outside because he had found something special-the Brahma sitting on 13 eggs in a little nest near the edge of the forest. We hadn't lost her at all, she had just gone broody. And our son had watched her carefully until she returned to her nest. With much care, we transferred her and her eggs to a wire rabbit cage that we placed in the new coop. We are really hoping at least some of the tiny eggs hatch out. This little hen has been roosting elsewhere for so long it is possible.
Last night we abducted the rooster and his three faithful hens from their roost just outside our dining room window. (They literally watched us eat our supper every night.) Our plan was to get all the chickens in the coop and then keep them in there. The chicken-napping was successful and we had 5 of the 6 fowl contained. We had searched long and hard for the last barred hen but couldn't find her.
As usual, our kids knew all about her hiding spot. Apparently she roosted in their favorite climbing tree-a cedar in the old windbreak. Sure enough, Clancy and I found her perched clear out at the end of a low limb-perfectly camouflaged. We had walked under her many times and would never have found her if the boys hadn't tattled on her.
So by 7 pm last night, all of our chickens were safely tucked into the coop. And there they shall stay until we get a fence built to enclose the tiny building. No more wild and free chickens until next summer. We were rewarded this morning with our first fresh egg of the year. Hopefully more will follow.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

It must be hard on them to be locked up, but they will be warmer and safer in the coop -- and you'll get fresh eggs! I do hope your transported nest rewards you with lots of little chicklets -- who's the daddy?

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

"Daddy" is the pale grey barred boy in the center of the photo. All the girls are looking at him.
Besides him we have two barred hens, two banty buff Brahmas, and one golden skinny-ish hen-I think she is a Red Star or a Gold Star or something.
I'm hoping Mr. Handsome minds his manners in the reduced space. I hate it when roosters pick on the hens all day. He'll have to go to the freezer if that happens.
Otherwise I love having a rooster. He is so majestic and regal. And I think it is hilarious how he takes himself so seriously. Just like the rams-but I love them too as long as they are not behaving badly.

Nancy K. said...

I need to build a pen/coop for my chickens too. They are awfully messy creatures! I love them though...