Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chicken intelligence

When God was handing out intelligence and common sense, the Chickens were hiding behind the door.

They were hiding because they couldn't find the door.

Since we've had such mild weather, and since the "new" chicks are 7 weeks old and fully feathered out, I've been leaving the door to the Chicken house open throughout the day.

The two adult Chickens appreciate this, as they spend most of their time outside foraging for food and pooping on my porch, on my steps, or on the basement patio.

The young chicks haven't found the open door yet.

I take that back. FIVE chicks have found the door and can venture outside.

They haven't, however, found the same door to go back inside.

So, last night, I went out to herd these 5 adventuresome chicks back inside. It was getting dark, they were getting nervous and were huddling under the chicken house.

They were far enough under that I couldn't reach them, so I got a board and "pushed" them out by waving the board behind them. Once they were back in the open, I tried to get them to go back up the ramp and into the chicken house.

Have you ever tried to herd chickens? It's not easy, and I wasn't very successful. I would herd them this way, and one would go that way. I'd get that one back, and another one would make a break. They would go under the ramp, and around the ramp, but not up the ramp.

Time for new tactics. I reached down and grabbed one of the chicks. Who squawked and flapped and wiggled. I tossed her into the chicken house. Unfortunately, my nice little herd scattered when I pulled this one out of the group, so I had to find them again. I managed to grab another one, and a third, and quickly pushed them into the Chicken House. But, since they were squawking and making all kinds of noise, the rooster got upset. Thankfully, he was already roosting, but he started crowing and cackling, upset that his women were being mistreated.

The thought did cross my mind that if he were truly concerned, he'd have stuck his head out to see if he could help defend his girls. Instead, he just made noise. (Note that I'm not making any comparisons between Male Chickens and Male Humans.)

The last two girls were more difficult to get rounded up. The cackling and panicked sounds of their sisters had made them more nervous, and they retreated further under the chicken house. Miss Kat had to come help push them out so I could swoop down, grab birds and shove them inside.

And, of course, once they were inside, I had to go in and shut their door. The Rooster was inside and he was still upset and making lots of noise. I took in a big stick with me just in case he decided to come off the roost and attack me in the relative safety of his home. He stayed put, but kept an eye on me and fluffed himself up letting me know he wasn't very happy with me.
Which made me stop, look him in the eye, and say, "Look Stupid, if you'd teach them how to come back in at night this wouldn't have happened. And, if you come after me, you'll be supper."

He backed down, suitably frightened, and I filled the feeders and left them all to recover and rest.

Let's hope the Rooster teaches the girls how to go in and out the door today.

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