Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another kind of sleepover

Princess Lay-a
Guess who's got a pretty little comb and some wattles?  Princess Lay-a is growing up, sniff sniff.

With maturation comes the age old struggle for independence, and we're all about the teenage drama around here now.   Every time I look out to their run it seems someone is having an issue with someone else and feathers are flying.  Does anyone want any chicken feathers?  Seriously, they're starting to accumulate.  And also some of our girls have been having unauthorized sleepovers, and I have some concerns.  What will the neighbors think?  What if uninvited guests come over?

As you may recall, here's what their coop looks like - it's about 5' tall and is completely enclosed by a repurposed chain link dog run.

Lately we've been leaving the sliding wooden door to their coop open at night, so they can put themselves to bed and night and get up when they damned well please in the am.  Classic teenage stuff, right?  The other night I went out to check on them just after sunset and was alarmed when I only counted 2 heads inside on their roost.  It took me a little while to figure out that the missing girl was on the roof.

It's a sleepover!

This wouldn't bother me if I thought it was safe, but the roof is only a few inches below the chain link, and any predator that could get up on top of the enclosure (e.g. a raccoon) could reach through the link and put an ugly end to the party.

I'm not sure why this behavior is happening.  I read on the chicken forums (yes, there are several of these) that ripples through the pecking order can sometimes make one or more hens decide to seek higher places to roost (which implies social status), and once this happens others may will follow suit.  It always seems to be Princess Lay-a and Lucille, which I never would have predicted as the Alpha Chicks since Chica Loca is the one who boldly rushes toward our dog when we approach the run.

Two's company

For now I'm heading out just after sunset and plucking their sweetly sleepy bodies off the roof and shutting them inside the coop.  Yes, there's some complaining, but I always used to make some noise too when someone's mom put an end to my sleepover fun. Chickens get really slow and goofy at night - it's kind of sweet.  They don't run from you, and they're even a little snuggly.  Still, they make sure to let me know that they're not happy about the change in sleeping arrangements, but the struggling is minimal.

Some changes will need to be made so we don't have to perform this ritual every night, and so our girls live long enough to have the satisfaction of providing our breakfast.  I think the best option will be to put some screening on top of the roof to prevent them from getting up there in the first place.  Should be easily enough done.

It's so sad when they grow out of the cute and cuddly stage.  Next thing you know they're probably going to want the keys to the car.


SummersStudio said...

I love your hens. Many years ago I had a little flock of layers. They are fascinating and do have very distinct personalities. For instance our rooster Louie was quite assertive but only with our then toddler daughter. Each morning in summer he would wait for her to get on her scooter then sneak up and grab whatever food was in her hands. She never learned not to take toast into the yard and he never failed to snatch it. Actually, I could ramble on and on about stories from the coop. Maybe I should get chickens again :-) For now I'll just live vicariously.

Izzy said...

I just love your chicken stories... I would love to have some of my own, but we have WAY too many predators around here (including our dog) so it may have to wait until a later (much later) date.

kate mckinnon said...

Yay! Chicken Post!


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