I always seem to get animals that have some sort of personality issue. I was going to write “disorder”, but they aren’t really problems, they’re just….eccentricities. Or, as my husband likes to call them “WEIRD”.
For example, I used have a show horse named Apollo that was the son of a world champion Arabian stallion. Apollo was big and goofy, was afraid of mushrooms growing in the arena footing, and when we went to horse shows, he would get all freaky and need to have his tongue held. No, no, you didn’t read that wrong. He wanted me to hold his tongue. He’d stand in his stall at the show with his tongue hanging out and he’d push his face against you until you held his tongue. He’d then sigh deeply and close his eyes half-way in relief. So there I’d be…standing next to the stall holding his tongue. Son of a world champion…complete wuss.
We have a variety of dogs with odd behaviors too. One insists on chewing on the strings of your workout pants and will basically drive you INSANE until you either change pants or give her what she wants. This is why my pants that are supposed to have draw string waists, don’t have draw strings anymore. Another not only insists on being carried to bed (thank goodness she’s a chihuahua) but then when you put her on the bed, she drags her back legs around like she’s paralyzed. Not a thing wrong with her. Just WEIRD. I could go on, but you see where I’m going here. We have our own little animal “group home”.
This morning (Monday…ruining my life since 1964), it was incredibly hard to get out of bed. It’s only because I had to go to work which instantly saps me of any shred of motivation that I might have had left over from the weekend. I walked around and drank Diet Pepsi and whined for a while and then figured that since there was no giant snowstorm predicted (that’s the only reason work would close and tell us to stay home) and the likelihood of one forming in ten minutes in 72 degree temperatures was remote, that I’d better get hopping if I wanted to make it to work by my usual 20 minutes late.
I scuffed out to the chicken coop, because I KNEW that they were in there standing and staring at the door to the run and wondering where the hole went that they normally went through to get outside. I don’t think they completely comprehend the concept of a DOOR. Yesterday while I was cleaning the coop, I locked them all outside and they stood there dumbfounded that the HOLE was gone and pretty soon they were all trying to stand on the ramp and pecking at the door itself as if that was some sort of chicken “OPEN SESAME” trick.
It was another gorgeous morning here, a few clouds, perfect temperatures, nice breeze. I was sort of enjoying the short walk to the coop. I’m sure the neighbors were enjoying it too because I was wearing black and white leopard print pajama shorts, purple Crocs and a Jimmy Buffett t-shirt. I like to think I’m their morning comedic relief. I sort of see it as a public service.
Anyway, the coop doors were all closed and locked, the run was empty and I always check for evidence of predators trying to get into the run or possible holes they may have made trying to get into said run and everything looked pretty good. The ground surface of the run looks like the surface of the moon after being scoured by 12 chickens, but I told them they had to make the weeds last, so if they chose not to listen, not a thing I can do about that. They were warned.
I opened the door to the coop and my jaw dropped.
When we built the interior of the coop, we built a four-foot fence to separate my little work and sitting area from the area where the chickens hang out. They’ve been out there for several weeks now and everything has been going very well…except for the preponderance of wasps or some sort of flying bad thing that seems to think the rafters of the coop would be a great place to set up shop for a nest. I’m totally getting a Waspinator…look it up on Google…I had no idea…again someone is raking in tons of cash from an oddball invention, while I slave away in my office and losing every hint of color to my skin. Anyway, nothing has been bothering the coop. That wasn’t what I found when I swung open the door.
I unlocked the door, swung it open while singing “GOOD MORNING!” in my high-pitched chicken voice (the neighbors ADORE me) and there standing on the rail of the four-foot fence, looking EXTREMELY proud of himself was Vinnie…that darn Barred Rock.
Remember how the other chickens can’t even figure out how to get to the roosts and we went through “Roost School” (read the whole blog…it’s in there) one night? Everybody kept falling off and acting like they were 100 feet in the air instead of just TWO feet? Yeah. I remember it. That’s when I thought that perhaps I’d gotten a group of chicks that had been deprived of oxygen in the incubator at the hatchery. You know, the hatchery worker just said “OOPS! This group is going to be extra-stupid, but no one will know the difference because…well…chickens aren’t rocket scientists to begin with” (although it’s rumored).
Anyway, Vinnie strutted back and forth on the rail while I stood there with my mouth hanging open. He fluffed his feathers, stretched one wing and foot at the same time, and whistled and chortled happily like he’d done something REALLY COOL. He was more like “Aren’t you PROUD of me MOM???” instead of “UH-OH…busted”, which he most assuredly WAS.
All I said was “VINCENT MORTIMER” (that’s his full name). He did a couple of gymnast-like maneuvers and whistled happily because he was SURE I’d give him a treat. Then he fluffed his feathers again and sat down. Like he was staying there. Because he’s cool…and he obviously thought that I thought he was cool.
WRONG. I snatched him off the rail and gave him a gentle scolding while he whistled and pecked at the “MARGARITAVILLE” on my t-shirt. I placed him back in the coop with the herd of water buffalo…I mean, CHICKENS…who were preparing to stampede out into the run when I made the hole in the wall reappear by opening the door. After the dust settled and they were all outside, I tried to figure out what he’d done to get up there, because FLYING is not his strong suit…neither is anything else, now that I think about it.
Last night, when we were turning off their fan and tucking them in for the night, Vinnie had shown a little extra effort and had jumped up on the roost bar…just two feet…I wasn’t as impressed as he thought I should be apparently. We stood and watched them for a while and noticed that Vinnie seemed to be listening to the sounds of the toads drifting in through the open window which is covered with screen. He walked back and forth on the roost bar and right about as we were ready to go back to the house for the night…in fact, I was walking out of the coop…we heard a crash and looked at the window and there was Vinnie, smashed up against the screen, standing on the window sill looking triumphant.
For PETE’S SAKE. I went back into the chicken area, scooped him off the window sill and dropped him next to a pile of scratch. He quickly seemed to forget about his circus career as a high-window-sill walker and happily whistled while he stole all the sunflower seeds from the pile. It all seemed under control…probably just a fluke that he ended up on the window sill…so we locked up and went back to the house. I can see now, what he did. He got on the roost…flew to the window…and then hopped to the top of the fence rail. I don’t think it was an escape attempt…although he does have a blue print of the coop tattooed on his skin (reference: Prison Break”)…I think he just thought it was something entertaining to do.
So, now we’re going to take that fencing all the way to the ceiling. In the meantime, we’ve done some emergency “engineering” and have put up this classy, Vinnie-barricade, because I KNOW he’ll do it again and not only will he do it again, but those other chickens are total lemmings and next thing you know, I’ll go to open the coop in the morning and they’ll all greet me at the big doors instead of being OCD about where the hole in the wall that used to be the run door went.
Apparently, when they were deprived of oxygen at the hatchery, Vinnie must have gotten ahold of a tiny, beak shaped oxygen mask because this was not the action of a dumb chicken. This actually showed a little thought…and absolutely NO forethought on the part of the stupid humans who thought none of them would ever make it to the top of that four foot wall.
That’s a little scary. I’m completely denying his request for internet access and a cell phone…I don’t need any international events started by a chicken and I’ve clearly underestimated Vinnie’s abilities. I’m working on his Yale application right now.
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This blog is part of The Homestead Barn Hop #158