Monday, December 10, 2012

Chickens and the Snow

They never wanted to be inside. And such a nice chicken coop; all the amenities, electricity, window latches and a floor deep with hardwood shavings. Dawn to dusk, they'd be out scratching in the dirt, picking bugs a stretching their wings. When loose, they ruled the neighborhood. 

Until today. The chicken run is quiet. Not a single bird print in the snow. Not even Roosty is claiming his slice of outdoor territory. His crowing has been silenced, leaving this little part of the East Branch Valley strangely quiet.

I can't say I blame them. Come late fall, I'm ready for snow, but a few inches of slushy mess, followed by rain and a dreary fog—there's a good reason I'm on the couch starting a new blog. 

Today's resistance to the snow is just another quirky reaction to an ordinary situation from these birds. I won't claim they have emotions, or an abundance of intelligence, but they have just enough curiosity to keep me on my toes. You can tease me for this if you want, but each chicken does have a little slice of personality. 

Not wanting to raise a flock of soft chickens who refuse to step foot in snow that doesn't even cover their feet, I tried to coax them outside. No luck, so I took the next logical step. With little fanfare, I snatched Mr. Rooster and tossed him into the center of the run. His feet landed solidly in the snow. He froze.

Ok not literally, but he didn't move. Roosty, always shuffling his feet, keeping me in his site, rounding up his hens, perpetually on guard, stood perfectly still. And silent. I took a step towards him; he hunkered down. He was not going to move, at least not on foot through this slushy bullshit. Finally, after a quick glance over his shoulder, he sprung, turned in midair, and flew to the first snowless part of the chicken ramp. 

I tried to see if the ladies were any tougher, and grabbed one of the Delware hens and placed her gently on a snowy tree stump in the middle of the run. She stood firmly in the snow and squawked and squeaked without moving her feet. Finally, her wimpyness for the snow trumped my softness, and I picked her up and plopped her gently back on the snowless ramp. The rest of the flock had gathered on the ramp to watch the escapades waddled back inside with Roosty and the Delaware bring up the rear.

They're just waiting for a powder day I told myself. 

Or they were waiting for me to shovel their run. Which I did this afternoon. Damn chickens are smarter than I thought. When I went into the coop to gather eggs, they were all nicely on their perches, looking at me quizzically, with their feeder (full yesterday!) half empty. 

"We stay inside all day, we eat all day."


Shovel, shovel... shuffle shuffle... and the chickens were outside the rest of the day. 

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