We had storms here last evening. Again, with the torrential downpours. It’s like living in the Congo. Every time I go outside, I expect to see some rainforest monkey swing by on a vine. Tom keeps asking me, “When did we move to Seattle?”
The chickens are pretty much over standing out in the rain. I think at first it was novel and there was a lot of feather poofing, ruffling and shaking before they finally decided that they didn’t like getting wet and scooted into the run. Now, if the sky threatens rain, they stomp off to the coop before the first drop hits the dirt in the run. Which makes me feel better since soggy chickens make me think I need to buy them a blow dryer. As the storm came through last night, I didn’t worry about them too much because I knew they were safely in their coop with the big barn doors closed and the rain was coming straight down so I didn’t worry about the run door still being open. I knew their distaste for wet feathers would keep them inside the coop where it was dry.
I waited until there was a slight break in the rain, threw on my coop shoes and scuttled out to the coop and of course it started to rain HARDER when I was about half way there. As I approached the coop, I could here the familiar clucking that I’ve come to associate with the chickens when they are happy and content. I struggled with the lock on the door…getting wetter while I did…and finally slipped into the dim light of the coop which smells a little chickenish because of the dampness, but the aroma of fresh shavings still hangs in the air. The birds were climbing on perches, eating some dinner, exploring corners of the coop and scratching around in the shavings. Dry, content, and busy. Perfect!
I plopped down on the straw bale outside of their area to talk to them and several came over to check for treats. I displayed my open hands and spoke to each of them, stroking their soft feathers through the wire fencing. I didn’t want to invade their space last night. I just wanted to watch them for a bit. Not finding my hands full of treats, they endured my petting for a bit and then went back about their business…I can never figure out what business chickens are busy with…but they seem to know, so I just let them go with it.
During my coop decorating frenzy this weekend, I added a mirror that we found on sale at a local store. Tom liked it because it hung from a rope. I liked it because it was a mirror. The chickens were terrified of it when I hung it in the coop. They got over it pretty quickly and then it seemed as though they just ignored it. Which is fine…ingrates. Where I was sitting was just outside of where the mirror hangs and I wasn’t really paying attention to the mirror, because Vinnie was still campaigning for some sort of treat and I was explaining to him that he is really a vulture. I happened to notice movement by the mirror and watched as Opal, our sweet Buff Orpington, gazed at her reflection for a long moment. She cocked her head, still looking at the mirror and made a soft clucking sound and watched as her reflection did the same. Soon, she was joined by one of the Wyandotte Sisters and they both watched their reflections until Vinnie stampeded through and ruined the moment.
I am always concerned with providing a stimulating environment for the flock. I think that every living being that is able to possess curiosity, leads a much fuller life because life is then filled with discovery and wonder. Adding a mirror to the coop was definitely a good idea. I’d rather see them out playing in the run and doing their chicken act outside, but on days like this where the rain makes the run an unpleasant place to be, I’m glad to see that they’re still finding things that interest them due to their natural curiosity.
I think I’m going to look for more “enrichment” ideas for their coop. If I change them up occasionally, the ideas will stay fresh and I’ll be able to see what their favorites are. I have a whole list of ideas of things that they might find curious but are still safe for them to explore.
I can’t wait to try them out! You can be sure I’ll let you know how it goes.