I contacted Smiths yesterday after updating this blog to enquire about putting the hens in to the freshly creocoted Palace. I was informed that as soon as it was dry, they could move in. So, at seven o'clock last night, they did.
I eagerly prepared the shiny new coop for the chooks first night. They watched the activity from afar, apparently unconcerned by this new development. I very much doubt that they expected the new structure to have anyting to do with them. Boy, were they in for a surprise.
Once everything was ready, I threw in a handful of corn and called them. They came thundering up the garden, before coming to a comedy stop at the threshold of the new pad. Some low level chuntering passed from the hens at the front (Maude and Maeve) to those at the back (Mabel and Kiki). Most opted for a slow backwards retreat. However, Doris was hungry, and shot in to the run to grab a beakful of grain. Maeve sauntered after her, looking around the fabulous new addition to my chicken keeping empire. She half heartedly scratched in the bedding, before nonchalantly turning back for the door. At the same time, Doris decided to vacate. It started out quite sedately, and ended in a mad dash across the patio. Not sure what spooked them, but they were definitely disturbed. So, there was nothing else for it.
I darted about the garden, grabbing hens and stuffing them in to the coop. Finishing with the chooklets (who were stuffed in to a nest box), I stood back and waited for the girls to emerge. Ten minutes later, I was still waiting. Some bokking could be heard from the bedroom area, but not so much as a beak passed the open pop hole. I decided to make myself a cup of tea.
When I returned, I saw Maude emerging from the house. She stood at the top of the ramp, doing that curious 'head up, head down' thing that all chickens do when trying to suss out their environment. She darted her head all about, taking in the roof and walls, before elegantly leaping on to one of the external perches. Shaking herself, she let out a loud bok-ARK. Maude had obviously been chosen as the scout chicken. Finding the coast clear, she gave the signal. The others began to emerge.
They spent the next hour or so exploring the grounds of the palace. Every so often, someone would attempt to fly up to the roof, no doubt checking the security features. So engrossed in this were they, that the chooklets were largely left alone. Only when Celia refused to vacate the space on the perch which Mabel felt was rightly the top hens spot did she get a bit of feather pulling, but on the whole it has been quite tame. Relieved, I retreated to the human house to eat biscuits.
At half eight, I went out to check on them. Strangely, the daft silkies were the only birds to go in to the house to sleep. I found them wedged in to a nest box. This was a surprise, because in my experience the silkie girls have the combined intelligence of a crisp packet. Maeve had occupied a neighbouring box when first introduced to the Palace, and had stubbornly refused to move. Outside, on a perch, I found five snoozing pekins. Chook by chook, I placed them on the internal perch block. Being in that curious half asleep/hypnotised state, they allowed me to do so without a sound. I closed the pop hole, and crossed my fingers.
My alarm went off at 7 this morning, and I eagerly went out to open the coop. Not a sound. With a dark dread I opened the main door, imagining lots of creocoted to death chooks. Eight hens stared back at me, blinking in to the light. The coop is very, very dark. This is very, very good. Hopefully, the false night will keep the gobby hens quiet. Within the hour, all of the girls (even Maeve) had made their way downstairs to get some breakfast. They are staying in today, just to get them totally used to their new house., and so that they can redecorate a bit.
Moving day is always a bit stressful.