Well, that was a bit of an adventure.
We decided to let the three chicks out into the orchard today–and put them in the coop at night. In other words, day #1 of their lives with the entire flock. We considered waiting another week, but we’re supposed to get big thunderstorms tonight and the next day or two so we were concerned that they might get pretty wet from the blowing rain and storms.
We let (and shut) them out of the mobile coop in the middle of the afternoon. This gave them plenty of time to get introduced to the big chickens before the evening together in the coop. It went smoothly. Most of the big hens simply ignored the chicks. Daisy, Ella, and Beaker all made sure that they knew their place, however. The disciplining wasn’t too bad.
Around 7 pm, the thunderstorm started blowing in. The clouds were gray and it got a lot darker all of a sudden. The big chickens started putting themselves in the coop so we hoped the chickies would follow.
The hens did put themselves to bed earlier than usual and even with less fuss. There is usually a lot of complaining and fussing and b^tching about who gets to sleep where. Sometimes chickens get knocked off the roost. I’m surprised one of them hasn’t broken her neck yet. (Knock on wood.)
Unfortunately, the chicks didn’t take the hint to follow the big girls into the coop so I tried to shepherd them in there. Yeah, right. Ron and I tried to shuffle them in there. Uh huh. Amazing how three chicks can be so difficult.
Then the rains started. First big fat droplets spaced far apart. Then they started coming faster. And pretty soon it was dumping rain. As in buckets.
And the chicks were still outside. They clearly wanted back into their mobile coop, but we had shut the door and they were too dumb or stressed to go under the little table we have in the orchard (mostly it’s a sun and hawk guard). Fortunately, they also hadn’t figured out they could escape under the coop. They probably would have spent the night there.
Instead, Ron and I stood in the rain trying to grab the little buggers. I managed to nab Annie, the most social and tame of the trio, pretty quickly. I put her in the coop and Ron stood guard to keep her inside. That left Emma and White Tail. I went back out in the pouring rain and scooped up one of them–I think White Tail–fairly quickly, but stupidly thought I could grab a chicken under each arm and toss them in the coop at the same time. I’m not that talented. So I gave up grabbing Emma and took White Tail to the coop.
Meanwhile, at this point, I can barely see out of my glasses and my clothes are soaking wet. Drenched.
White Tail was also pretty soggy, but Emma was even worse given the extra 20 seconds she spent in the pouring rain. I nabbed her quickly–she was too soaked, scared, and confused to run away, poor thing–and took her into the coop.
At that point, it was eight hens, two humans, and three chickies–the last five of whom were soggy to downright soaked. Sigh. But at least they were all in the coop and the big girls were cooperating by not pestering the chicks.
But the adventure continued!!
After coming into the house and changing clothes (because I was indeed soaked to the skin), I went back out in proper attire (including rain jacket) to see how the chicks were doing. I ended up spending about 20 minutes out there, trying to help them adjust. Or maybe it was just assuaging my own guilt for such a traumatic introduction to the coop.
All three were pretty soggy, wandering around peeping and spending a lot of time looking up at the high roost with the big chickens. They looked like they wanted up, but they couldn’t figure out how to get there. This was the first time they displayed any interest in roosting, unlike all of the other chicks previously.
I talked to them and petted them a bit. Annie was the most patient, relaxed, and friendly, per usual. Then she became Annie the pet chicken.
I picked her up and held her several times. I tried to put her down on the ground, but she didn’t hop down. Instead, she stood on my fingers and looked around. Or she’d stand on my forearm. Or she’d nestle down onto my fingers, chicken crouching like she was trying to rest that way. A couple of times I tried to snuggle her to my chest a bit–it’s a lot easier to hold a chicken this way–and she ended up climbing up on my shoulder and hanging out there (!). By this point, Ron came out to the coop to see how things were. Meanwhile, Annie was on my shoulder. She even turned around to face the other direction. And stayed there. I was the one who pulled her off my shoulder. I’m not sure how long she would have hung out there on her own.
It continued. I squatted down frequently to talk to the chickies–hoping to calm them and that they would pig pile in a corner of straw somewhere, instead of wandering around, peeping like mad, and looking up at the big hens on the top roost. Next thing I know, something has hopped on my back!? Annie!! Except she started sliding down my back because I was wearing my slippery rain jacket.
Finally, after a little more of this adorable silliness, Annie plopped down in the straw smack in the middle of the coop, just a few inches in front of me. I hoped Emma and White Tail would come over and sit in a chicken pile with her. They continued wandering, peeping, and looking up while Annie was laying there and I petted her. Unlike the others, she was almost dry after the petting and snuggling.
Then Annie started–I swear I’m not making this up–chicken purring.
I’ve never heard this sound come out of one of our chickens before, even Ella who is my buddy and generally likes being petted. No, Annie was purring. This funny little gentle putt-putt-putt noise. She’d stop. And then putt-putt-putt again. Repeat…
When I came in the house, I asked Ron about it and he said turkeys make that noise. I had to google it, of course. A number of people on chicken blogs and YouTube (!) describe chicken purring–or have videos of their chickens purring. And it’s usually when the chicken is near their human, often being petted or snuggled.
So, Annie has been here eight days and she’s already my buddy, tolerating, even liking, many pets and she seems to enjoy sitting on my shoulder. Even tried to get up there on her own.
And the only thing I can think of is what happens when she stops laying…