The chicken coop was getting pretty nasty. Like “someone pass me a gas mask and don’t close up the coop or we’ll all die” nasty. Every day it seemed like one thing or another would prevent me from cleaning it. Today, upon hearing our first frost warning, I put my foot down, brought everything else to a stop, and DS2 and I went out to deal with it. Wet bedding, freezing temperatures and chickens are not a good combination.
By the time we were done, I had a nice feeling of accomplishment. I had tried to do this for days and it was finally finished! A big Fall chore was finally crossed off my list. I was thinking the ladies would enjoy their nice, clean, fresh-smelling coop when they came back from foraging in the woods. Since the beginning I’ve used pine shavings for their bedding and the fresh “piney” scent was so much better than the nasty “poopy ammonia” scent.
Later, sundown sent me outside to check food, water containers, hay, and to start shutting every one up for the night. I decided to do the chickens first since they had already entered the open run gate. As I got closer, I realized they were all standing there just staring at the coop door. My first thought was something was in their home.
Hurrying, I grabbed a long thick branch off the wood pile. I was going to protect my girls from whatever was in that coop. A bobcat had been seen nearby, so I had no idea what I might find. Skunk? Raccoon? That darn chipmunk that kept stealing their feed? I wanted a crack at that last one. Entering the run caused a flurry of clucking as they all crowded around me.
I have no idea why I talk to my animals. I know darn well they won’t answer back or understand. But they turned as one and stared at the coop door. Raising the branch like a bat, I slowly stepped closer. So far, I hadn’t had to deal with any threats to the livestock, but I knew eventually it would happen.
Sticking my head inside I couldn’t see any dangerous critters. Confused, I entered. I checked behind the feed bins, inside the nesting boxes, poked through the bedding and found nothing. I felt a bit stupid for grabbing my “weapon” and tossed it out of the run so I could get the girls bedded down. Except they wouldn’t enter the coop. They flat out refused. They even backed up when I tried to get them to go in.
I picked up Boss (Australorp) and tossed her in. She immediately flew up to the roost. Watching her for a minute it was obviously she wasn’t scared, so I tossed Chaos in (White Plymouth Rock), but she immediately ran back outside. I had no idea what was going on. Grabbing the scratch, I did my usual “Chick, chick” call that normally brings them running. They were having none of it. In fact, all but Boss left the run.
What. The. Heck.
Doing the call again and tossing scratch on the ground of the run brought them all back in. Closing the run door, I realized they didn’t like their nice clean coop. In fact, by all appearances they hated it. What?! All my hard work and they wanted nothing to do with it? But they had to go in to stay warm and safe. There wasn’t an option other than that.
What followed next was something like a Benny Hill chase scene with me chasing chickens, putting them into the coop, them jumping back out and my having to chase them down again.
(not my video, but it pretty much sums up me chasing the chickens – and the run isn’t even that big!)
Eventually I realized I had to shut the screen door to keep each one in while I chased down another one. Yeah, a “duh” moment. By the end of it, I was out of breath and tired, but all 10 chickens were in the coop. And, dang it, they were going to enjoy all my hard work whether they liked it or not!
After they were in, they all jumped up on the roosting bar to bed down for the night like nothing was wrong and I was the one with issues.
The little snots.