Psychologically traumatized pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bertman, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. bertman

    bertman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2011
    I had to post this because it was so funny and I've been seeing so many horrible and sad posts on BYC about people's birds dying or getting slaughtered that I thought it might be a bit of comic relief.

    Today I decided to remodel the coop that I recently converted from a guinea coop that was a rabbit hutch for fourteen years in its first incarnation. Because the coop is about three feet off the ground and can only be accessed from the front I placed the roost on the right side of the coop so the girls were lined up from the front door to the back wall of the coop. (DISCLAIMER: This whole chicken bidness is new to me so it's trial and error if there isn't a specific, detailed explanation on BYC of how to do something. Or, if I have not yet read about that specific, detailed explanation on BYC. )

    At first the roost seemed fine. The girls took their time adapting to it but once they did, going to roost was just the usual social hour before bedtime when everyone discusses whether they like the grapes better than the watermelon or why is it that they can only free range in the late afternoon or when will the big brown lab dog stop trying to sniff their butts. Then the other night we had a possum attack that created quite an uproar but miraculously none of the girls was hurt worse than losing a few feathers and being scared to freakin death. That was the first night I had to round the girls up and put them on the roost, so I discovered that having the roost run from where I stand at the front to where it ends at the back is a VERY bad design. I vowed to make things right ASAP because it will make the regular obligatory chicken body examinations so much easier.

    Soooo, today I let the girls out for a long scratch-and-catch party in the yard. They had a ball roaming and flying around while I was sweating like a pig removing the roost and moving it so it is parallel to the front of the coop and easily accessible by me or my DW standing in the door(s)--good thing I screwed all of the parts together instead of nailing! While I was remodeling, I decided to go ahead and install the Deluxe, removable, vinyl-covered poop shelf that I put together to make coop cleanup less of a chore bordering on a hazmat operation. The vinyl color and pattern is coordinated with the floor of the coop so I figured the girls would really like the new matching decor. Plus it will help Goldie, the Golden Sex Link, get up onto the roost since she apparently did not get the jumping gene that the other five birds came by honest.

    Once the renovations were done I cleaned out the feathers and chicken poop, then added fresh, smells-like-pine, wood pellets, then donned the dust mask and sprinkled DE and mixed it in. After the fresh water was put into the water dispenser and the poop was cleaned off the porch and the ramp, I stood back and surveyed the work and was very pleased by how clean and inviting the coop looked. It was still pretty bright out so the brown dog and I sat in the shade of the oaks, relaxed, had a cool one, and enjoyed watching the girls scratching in the leaves.

    When it started getting toward dusk I invited the ladies to head on over to the run and start their pre-bedtime activities. They were mostly cooperative; although, the spectre of the possum attack still lingers in the minds of some of the girls so they were a bit reluctant to get into the run, but a little wrangling work with the PVC pipes got them all into the run without much fuss. Usually one of them will head up the ramp and the others will follow until everyone starts jostling for their preferred position on the roosting board. That's when most of the arguing seems to take place and someone's feelings get hurt and a few feathers fly, but no real damage happens and everyone settles down and the tone turns conversational until it gets dark and all is quiet.

    i closed the run door and headed to the compost pile to dump the pellets and poop, figuring I'd come back and perform 'lockdown' of the coop when the girls were on the roost. When I got back to the run there were six very upset pullets giving me what-for at the run fence. Not a soul had ventured up the ramp, but several of them were eyeballing the coop like the possum might have returned and was hiding in wait. They were giving me that "You think I'M going UP THERE? No way, buddy!!" look and squawk. Here it was almost dark and they were all pacing along the fence with no intention of roosting in their newly remodeled home. That's when it hit me--it's the new roost layout!!! Ohhhhh, and the shiny-new, beige, vinyl poop shelf that had just made its first appearance in their bedroom with no warning and no proper introduction. I felt very stupid for not having thought of the effect the new arrangement would have on the girls' psyche. What a derelict of a chicken servant I was. Here I had worked all afternoon on a Chicken Terror Project without even knowing it. My sweet birds were freaking out and night was closing in on us.

    So, I did the only thing a good roo can do under those circumstances. I opened the run door and walked over to the coop and opened the glass door so they could see there was NO POSSUM inside the roost. I had to do a bit of sweet talking but they were really ready for bed and two of them jumped right up onto the porch without even thinking about the ramp. The other four hurried up the ramp and there they all six stood: on the front porch looking into the coop with pure, unadulterated, chicken trepidation. There were six sideways chicken heads eyeballing the interior to inspect for aliens. After about ten seconds, Legs the Brown Leghorn, jumped into the coop and headed for the roost. Right behind her were the other five. That's when the jostling and arguing began for real. Maybelline decided to burrow under Beb and Goldie, who then jumped off the roost and almost into my arms. Meanwhile, Red the New Hampshire Red, headed straight for me and got eyeball-to-eyeball waiting for her right-before-bed chest scratch. Harriet, the dominant lady in the group, came over beside Red and started giving me some very nasty, low growling sounds along with the worst chicken Stink Eye I have ever been subjected to. I tried to give her a little chest scratch but she'd have no part of it and jumped up on the poop shelf, then promptly plowed through the other girls and got HER spot.

    With that, I closed the glass door and the other doors and locked my very noisy and agitated flock in their coop. Then, brown dog and I settled down outside the run to observe the proceedings. It only took about five minutes and a few bodies hurtling through the air to get the seating arrangements worked out. When darkness fell, I walked over and shined the flashlight into the glass door and counted six hens on the roost. I don't think there was any muttering still going on, but I'm pretty near deaf so they could have still been letting me know what they thought about my remodeling project.

    I just hope there's no permanent psychological damage to any of the girls. [​IMG]
  2. Help_battery_hens

    Help_battery_hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2011
    lol i love this post
  3. rebel-rousing-at-night

    rebel-rousing-at-night Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is just too cute!
  4. ima57boomer

    ima57boomer Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2011
    You captured the goings on very well. Nice writing. Isn't it funny how they communicate with each other, and also with us if we are open to receiving their messages? I hope they all accept their new, improved, possum-less digs very soon.
  5. TheLadyChickens

    TheLadyChickens Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 4, 2011
    Williamston, MI
    "low growling sounds along with the worst chicken Stink Eye I have ever been subjected to" hahaha! Too funny! I have just learned and witnessed the chicken stink eye myself, and could quite possibly be experiencing PTSD from the event.
  6. azpenguin

    azpenguin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson, AZ
    Psychologically traumatized pullets - A little long, but would make a great band name!
  7. bertman

    bertman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2011
    PTSD from the Stink Eye!![​IMG][​IMG]

    Glad y'all enjoyed the story. It's all true.

    This morning the girls seemed no worse for the wear from having to sleep in the Chicken Terror Shack. They got watermelon and BOSS for treats and were busy doing their chicken thing when I headed off to do my chores.

    It's going to be interesting to see how it goes tonight after their afternoon free range.

  8. crazypetlady

    crazypetlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    I LOVE it!!! having received "chicken stink eye" myself on many occasions!!!
  9. terrilhb

    terrilhb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2010
    Thanks for such a funny story. Yes after reading such sad news alot it is so great to hear good, funny noise. I know that stink eye and growling very well. I am going to be getting some today from and evil hen. And then from 2 more hens when I put the evil hen in with them. Should be a trip. I hope your girls get used to it fairly quick and am glad noone was seriously hurt from the possum.
  10. bertman

    bertman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2011
    Good news! Tonight after the late afternoon free range all of the girls but one decided to head on back to the run, then started using the roost. The lone holdout was easy to catch and joined her sisters in the coop.

    No complaining and eye-balling the coop tonight.

    All's well that ends well.


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