On two recent nights, terrible indignities have been occuring to our chickens. Thursday night last week they were dusted with powder that prevents nasties like lice and mites.
One who does not own chickens might be curious about this process. First up you want to wait for the girls to put themselves to bed. That process begins around twilight and can take up to an hour or more to be completed. Especially when you have new girls who are still working out their place in the flock.
There are two times of day when you will notice who sits where in the scheme of things. Feeding time, where the “lower” girls will be pecked away from the “good food” by the higher girls. It is not usually actual pecks, just acting like they are about to peck is enough to send a lower girl running away. This time of day is easy to document with photos and video.
The other time of day is bedtime. Lesser girls will be told in no uncertain terms to get off the roost of the higher girls. The girls have three roosts to choose from. At present we have two roosts in use – one inside the coop where the higher girls sleep – one in the run where the lesser girls sleep.
Apologies – I will not use flash at night if chicken eyes are aimed at me. So this is a dark time photo!
Once the girls have found their spot, they settle in and sleep. They usually remain asleep until about an hour before sunrise, at which time they start to wake up. Some early birds will be up and about, looking for food, water and early morning bugs to eat.
That is, unless they receive a surprise visit from two crazy lunatics who shake dust onto their feathers. In that instance there is much squawking and outraged clucking, some reshuffling of half asleep hens, and all the girls placed onto the internal roost inside the coop just so we know who has been dusted and who has not. I do not have photos for you of the dusting – that is a time when you need your wits about you and you can’t be trying to take photos.
On Saturday night there was another surprise visit – this time to do some feather trimming. The new girls have been here with us for two weeks now and it was time to allow some free ranging. These girls can really fly and BeeGee, Queen and Diana are more flighty than our usual chicken so we wanted to make sure they would not take off over the fence into parts unknown.
We did not bother with wing trimming our older girls – they have been living here for a long time and also are less athletic than some of our newbies.
On Sunday, the chicken enclosure door was placed in the open position, and we collectively held our breath hoping all would go well. AKA the girls would find their way back to the coop at the end of the day. Because Queen and Diana have been having a little trouble with that even inside the enclosure, often ending up on top of the coop rather than in it.
The girls had a grand time wandering about and exploring new areas they had been gazing at longingly since arriving. The grass was a big hit and much enjoyed, but the garden beds were also a source of happiness. They also found the secret dust bathing area where the cats can watch them from inside the house.
While the girls wandered, The Other Half got to work on building them a new way into the coop. He took apart an old fence we had lying around, and created something pretty awesome out of it – they now have an impressive ramp and they are enjoying it a lot. There are times when standing at the top is The Place To Be.