Sunday, 23 February 2014

Inside Out

I'm inside looking out. I'm inside sitting by a warm radiator watching the rain falling outside. I can see the chicken run. I can't see any chickens, but I can see two pinky beaks poking out of the chicken house doorway. I think it's fair to say that our six new chickens are unimpressed with their change of circumstances. Today they have refused to come out of the house. As there are no older birds to show them the way, I'm not sure if today's no show is reluctance to face the harsh reality of Wales in February during the wettest winter on record, or simply lack of free range experience. I'm not convinced its the latter as although their 20 week life to date from hatch to market has been confined to a barn, yesterday evening instinctive behaviour kicked in and all six birds knew what the drinker was for, knew what they would find in the feeder and knew to go to bed in the house before dark. I'm starting to worry that reluctance will be stronger than instinct and that dislike of rain will lead to dehydration and starvation. Letting your chickens die within 24 hours of arrival would not be a good thing. I think it's time to drag myself away from the warm window seat, get the waterproofs on and go have a word with the girls.


I put a tub of pellets inside left of the door. I put a tub of water inside right of the door. Judging by the rush to get to both I'd say thirst and hunger were becoming an issue. Judging by the eagerness of certain chickens to get from water to food and back again, and the clumsiness of a chicken moving in haste, I'd say I was right to wait around and refill both upturned tubs. Twice. And again an hour later. Clearly until the girls learned either manners or the size of their feet, this was not a practical way to keep them fed and watered. Thankfully, if there's one thing a chicken can't resist, it's corn. Once the tasty corn morsels within reach of a neck at full stretch have been gobbled up, there's nothing for it but to take the plunge and emerge from the house. Once one goes, the rest of the flock will follow. I'm not ashamed to exploit the competitive greediness of chickens if it means it gets them out of the house. Of course now that they're out, I have to be sure that they've gone back in. I think it's time to drag myself away from the warm window seat once again.