On “move-in day” i got up early and set the food and water dispensers inside the new chicken coop. Then i went to the shed and got a cat carrier. I transported two chickens at a time in the cat carrier and released them in the chicken pen. It was done. They were finally home.
At first, they didn’t know what to make of the grass and the sunshine. They had been raised in a bathroom with a red heat lamp. They weren’t used to the outdoors. They were especially startled by the sound of other birds. Whenever a bird would sing or tweet they would all crane their necks upward and cock their heads. For the first five minutes all of the chickens huddled together in a group and stood absolutely still. It was a black fly that pulled them out of their trance as instinct took over and they began to chase it. Pretty soon they were all scratching the ground and searching the grass for bugs to eat.
All except little buttercup. She was the smallest of the chickens, the one that had hung out with Ira and kept him warm by sitting with him when the group seemingly rejected them both because they were too small. Ira had grown bigger but buttercup hadn’t and she was now the runt of the flock. She was often picked on or run over by the other chickens and so was a very anxious and overly cautious chicken. She stayed in the coop and hid in the corner while the rest of the chickens searched for food. Try as i might, i couldn’t get her to come out for any significant length of time and decided to just let her get the hang of it on her own time.
The chickies enjoying their new habitat.
Ira the rooster immediately assumed rooster duties for his little flock. In the mornings he would be the first one out the coop door. He would do a walk around the pen, have a look at things, and if the coast was clear he’d call to the hens who would then emerge in a group. At night, right before they went in the coop (unfortunately for me i got late night chickens who refused to turn in before 8:50 pm) Ira would stand guard outside while the chickens climbed in. He would pace in front of the coop and watch the tree line for predators. After about 15 minutes of this he would climb in but he’d sit right in front of the door, facing the exit. A predator would have to go through him first if they wanted his ladies.