Putting The Chickens To Bed
At dusk I spy a mama bear and two cubs in the meadow across the street. Aha! Are these the mysterious trespassers who bothered my birds last night? I’ve got fence around them now. Hot sizzling poultry netting, fresh off the energizer. And two night vision cams. I wonder if mama bear was skiddish about her cubs, so they didn’t linger when the plywood started falling over on them. I hope this doesn’t turn into Caddyshack.
I’ve been on edge the last few nights because one of the cuckoo marans hasn’t been going on the roost at bedtime. I’ve been opening the back door, grabbing her, and placing her there myself. Tonight Roo jumps down on me as I reach for her and I let him get a bite in while I shake her little chicken feet off of me and onto the roost. Rooster bites hurt a little bit, and they leave funny beak-shaped marks on my skin. Whatever, Roo. I slam the door in his face. He’ll get on the roost, himself – I’m not worried.
It’s important to me that the birds roost at night, especially the cuckoos, who are new to the game. Sleeping in the nest boxes are bad habits – that is for laying eggs, only. No sleeping and no pooping allowed. And for some reason I imagine it’s bad for bird psychology to sleep alone on the floor when all your bird family members are sleeping comfortably on the roost. They will be a happy family, or else!
I peek into the entrance of the coop again and hear a scuffle. Suddenly Brownie and one of the cuckoos are down on the floor. Roo is back on the roost. Brownie is an old pro and I figure she’ll find her way back up there, but minutes later, both hens are still milling about. I go around the back yet again and try to snatch her. Chaos. Roo is on me with the ferocity of D-Day. Abort mission! I close the door and think on it. I am irrationally determined to get every bird on the roost before bed. It is dark and I know there are predators just begging to come hang out. I don’t need attention-getters in the secure-but-visible doorway.
Somehow every bird hops up except the dumb cuckoo so I open the back door, grab her quick, and toss her up. Roo pounces again, but this time I grab him and put him up. Now all five birds are on the roost. I close the door, say good night birds & thank you for the eggs! and run away, my headlamp sliding down my forehead as I jog into the house. Good night birds, I say again, hurriedly. As if saying it multiple times will make it come true.
But it was true. They stayed on the roost all night, like the good little chicken family they are.