First day with real chickens

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After finishing  last night’s new chicken installation   in the wee hours, stumbling tired and bitten all over, the crowing came awfully early.  Uhoh.  I was afraid of the duelling banjos effect.

I let the little chickens out for the day and the rooster (I’ll have to call him his name, Snowball, now that there are three cocks around) was quite worked up, puffing and kicking and strutting, trying to crane over the field to see the source of the new crower on the block.  There were a few little anxiety noises out of the coop- things must be a bit unfamiliar in there, but the coop switch seems to have gone off ok.  It’s going back in at night that will really tell:  the ramp is a lower slope, and mirror image – do these things perturb birds?  They’ll have to turn left at the top now instead of right…are they ambi-turners?  I didn’t put any mesh around the bottom of the new coop- it’s superfluous except for confining them in, which we haven’t done since the first week.

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For a few loud hours the cocks just went at it, back and forth.  The (full-size, conventional, red?) new rooster has a kind of strangled, uncertain crow.  Like he’s not used to it.  I suspect that means he was a subordinate rooster.  That’s nice; low roosters are quieter and often quite gentle and mellow after being promoted.  Also, I thought the Silkies were quiet, but standing right next to the new cock, Snowball is louder, from across the field, which is something.  Unless he was really putting it on today.

They worked it out (finally, blessed silence).  Sounds to me like Snowball won the yelling match.

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Zombie tired, I went to put the hardware cloth back on the base of the big coop to let the big birds out.  Today they must be confined, to learn that they live here now.  Maybe I’ll let them loose as soon as  tomorrow.  Through the porthole, I could see three still perching and four walking around inside, and eating.  I tacked all the mesh on and dropped the ramp.  By the time I put the stapler away, there were three hens and a pair of feet down the ramp!  Very impressive.  But then, these are intrepid free-range chickens already, used to a big world of independence.  How long did that small step for chickenkind take for the purse chickens? Which, by the way, I think would be hilarious, to go around with one of these chickens in a bejeweled purse.  Too bad I’m not really into the right sort of purse, and I don’t think any of these hens would be into the purse either.  It would be a great bit of performance art or social experiment though.  I wonder how many people would even notice the beak.  It’s kind of subtle in all that fur.  H.W. regularly describes them: “Just picture a Shitzu.  With a beak.”

Midmorning:

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Well, that was fast. All cozied in.
And that was even faster!
And that was even faster!

Noon:
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Slackers!  You’re lucky you’re cute!
Slackers! You’re lucky you’re cute!

These girls miss no beats!  The box on the end is the most popular; I’d pick that one too.  The Silkies never went in that one.  The (new) rooster appears to have not gone downstairs yet, and he gets very upset when I open the lid.  Hens are all relaxed and unruffled when I approach, or open lid, or talk to them.  That’s nice; better for my self-esteem.

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The roosters talked to each other a couple of times during the day.  The new rooster seems to be getting his voice sorted out; he doesn’t always say the same thing.  I thought the tone of the afternoon exchanges was different than the morning’s rap battle; more casual, conversational.  I’m a rooster!  I’m a rooster too!  I hear you over there, we’re roosters!  Yeah, roosters!  Uh… yeah, roosters!  Roosters!  Ok, nothing more to say!

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The teacup chickens not only found their way up the ramp to roost in the afternoon, but when I merely opened the peephole they took off down the ramp immediately.  Oh. Busted. We were just leaving!  They were outside for their longest day since the first week, still out and about when I went for the first time to stow them, then put themselves to bed nice and proper, in late evening.  Yay!  Effortless coop swap.  The first time anything’s been effortless with them.  They seem to like it better too – at least, they jump off the perches now without a second thought.  It used to take minutes, hours worth of thoughts, sometimes.

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I was a bit too optimistic about the new chickens finding their way up the ramp they found their way down so easily.  I checked on them about five times, “What? Still up?”, and left them to it in case they were used to staying up late, until it was really, imminently getting dark, and they were obviously getting dopey and sleepy.  Time for the stick.  They reacted totally differently to the stick than the Silkies, looking offended by it, pecking back at it.  Fuck you, stick.  One hen went up the ramp and thump, I heard her jump to the perch.  The rest, arrrgh.  Maddening.   They clustered, jamming themselves in a corner, backs to the ramp.  I blocked off the bottom of the ramp and then ensued a long, frustrating period of poking them towards the ramp.  They’d go right to the top and then when there was only barely enough room to poke their heads back down, they’d turn around or squeeze out and jump off the side. It was like they didn’t think there was anything in the dark space at the top of the ramp, but when they got their head up there, you could see the sudden relaxation, in their feet.  Ohhh, this is exactly where I want to be.  Then the going to bed was an inevitability.  Thump.  A couple more went up without too much trouble, thump thump, and at the last there were two stubborn ones and a big galoot of a rooster.  My patience drained in inverse proportion to the number of mousquito bites I sustained.  There was cursing.   Over and over the hens would run to the rooster, who wouldn’t go near the ramp.  Finally I got those two hens up.  Just the naughty rooster left, making me crazy.  He was spazzing out,  and when I finally shoved him indelicately up the ramp, he went sideways with his head down, squalling about it.  It was like he perceived an overhead hazard, until his head got up there high enough, and just like the hens, Oh. I see.  I don’t think they got too distressed (enough to matter to eggs), on the whole.  Not as distressed as I did (dozens of bites).  They were already getting sleepy when the fiasco started, and as soon as they were up they were cashed out. The rooster was the only one who got fairly worked up, enough to squawk about it.

Well, too bad.  They aren’t allowed out until they can find their way up to bed at night.

A four-egg first day:  WOW.  I’m very excited for when H.W. rolls up and proper chickens have materialized!  “Whaattt?  Eggs!?”

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