Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Protecting chickens from predators, chicken rituals, pomp and circumstance

As the sun was coming up yesterday I was  looking out the window, cup of coffee in hand and thinking. I 'll go let the girls out in about 10 minutes. At that precise moment a giant hawk flew in and started circling the coop.  The girls have been made!  The new neighbors reported seeing an owl  eying the girls a few days ago so I bought  about a hundred feet of the bird netting.  My arms and hands are still giving me grief so I procrastinated   putting it up.  But with a top end predator  circling....I had to put down the coffee and go do the job, pain or no. It took about two hours to  drape the netting and secure it in place.  Then I decided that since I was already damp and cold and hands were already numb  I might as well do the coop spring cleaning. All the deep litter came out and went into the new compost pile (which is quickly becoming a mountain).  Towards  the end one of the ancient reds  wanted to lay and she kept coming in and checking on my progress.  I guess she   got a little anxious  because she started complaining at me.  When  I didn't comply with her request  fast enough she went and told Hash and he came over to  demand that I finish the job.... now!  To get my attention he tugged on my pants leg and then  vocalised a series of low pitched whistles and clucks.  It was almost like he was whispering conspiratorially... "look I know you have a job to do but the women have needs and well.... could you at least  LOOK  like you are moving faster?"   I felt the need to add to his social consequence and validate his authority by moving just a little faster.   I cant decide if they view him as an administrator with the bosses ear or as a prophet with a direct line to god. Anyway.....after I quickly  put in new litter and closed it all up they clustered together with Hash leading the way and they   all went in together  to check it out and then came back out clucking in approval.  All except one that is. She stayed behind to do the necessary.  I see it all the time but it surprises me every time they do it.  My  chickens really do have a flair for ritual, pomp and circumstance.
AND I still cant find my  camera!