Last night at about 7:30, I decided that it was Chicken Bedtime. I mixed up a little bedtime encouragement snack (bribe) and headed out to the coop to get everyone to come inside. I was feeling pretty smug and thought that there was NO way that they could resist my bribe.
When I got to the coop, the chickens met me at the fence outside as usual. I didn’t even stop. I just held up my bowl of snacks and yelled “COME ON GUYS!!” in my best screechy, high-pitched chicken voice. Of course, Vinnie was the first inside. I put the snacks on a big flat rock in the coop that we call “Table Rock” and stood there and waited…throwing a high-pitched “C’MON GUYS!!! Time for BED!!” now and then. The chickens outside could hear Vinnie pecking at snacks and it wasn’t long before several other beaked faces came to peek into the coop. Seeing the snack, they all tried to shove themselves through the run door at once and after some frantic clucking, I had eight of the ten vacuuming up snacks.
As usual, Cluck and one of the Wyandottes were hold outs and stood just outside the door of the run watching, but not making any moves to come in. By this time, Tom had come out to help. I sat in the chicken area and wheedled, sang, yelled, “C’MON CLUCK!” and tried to entice the last two into the coop by talking up the deliciousness of the snacks and how they were MISSING IT.
The Wyandotte (either Mary, Nina, or Ruth…they all look the same at this point) hopped through the coop door followed by a reluctant, suspicious Cluck. YES!!!!
And then Vinnie and Oprah went outside before we could get the door closed.
So, I started all over with my “Chicken Bedtime” routine while Tom watched with a mixture of amusement and weariness.
It was clear I was getting nowhere and that snacks weren’t working at all, when the chickens one by one all left the coop. And there I sat…again…no chickens in the coop, but plenty of chickens whooping it up outside in the run. UGH.
Tom said “It’s not dark enough.”
“Oh, it’s PLENTY dark enough…they just are trying to drive me insane. Give them a couple of minutes”
But none of them returned to the coop. We sat and waited. Nothing. Meanwhile, they were dashing back and forth in the run apparently having a heck of a good time.
Tom finally talked me into giving up and coming back later. Before I left, I stopped by the run and gave them a stern talking to about listening to their mother. They cocked their heads and simply went back to their big group preening meeting that I had apparently not been sent a memo about. I threw out the old “Sasquatches love chicken” line and they all ignored me.
FINE. I stomped back to the house mumbling about chicken recipes.
I paced around inside for a while. Tom suggested waiting until it was actually DARK. Not just dusk…but DARK dark…you know what I mean.
It was getting dark…the light was still visible to the west, but the outside lights had come on and I couldn’t STAND it anymore, so I went back to the coop, armed with a bag of scratch because I know that chickens can be talked into almost anything when there’s food in the equation. I tiptoed up to the coop because the big door was still open. The seed helicopters from the maple trees crunched under my purple Crocs and I was SURE they’d hear me and come barreling out into the run at top speed because that’s what they ALWAYS do.
As I approached the run, I could see the soft light from the coop illuminating the side-walk and part of the run. I’m as blind as a bat in the dark, so I squinched my eyes up (I’m sure it was a very attractive look for me) and noticed that there was not a chicken to be seen in the run…none in the dust bath, none on the outdoor branches. By this time I could see inside the coop and I carefully ninja’d my way up to the door so that I didn’t start any kind of mayhem. I was sure that Tom was wrong and that they were hiding just out of view in the run. They like to all cluster around the door and hang out and preen their feathers…which is where I left them.
I peeked through the door of the coop….Tom was right (I just hate that part)…they had all come in and gone to bed. Cluck, Gloria, Roseanna and Opal were all snoozing on a roost (my ninja skills had worked…no one had woken up) and the rest were sleeping together on the floor looking like large puddle of different colored feathers. Vinnie was lying partly on his side with his eyes closed and his head resting on Oprah’s back. I quickly snuck inside and shut the run door…and they all woke up. Busted.
None of them moved from their spot. Cluck regarded me sleepily from the roosting bar. He leaned over to Gloria, who was roosting next to him, and rubbed his face in her neck feathers. She shifted around a little and nudged him back and they both closed their eyes. Vinnie had sat up when I closed the run door, but he too had gone back to resting and was again laying next to Oprah with his head resting on her. One of the Wyandottes settled down close to Vinnie so that her tail was toward his face. She, of course, choose that opportune moment to POOP and it landed RIGHT on Vinnie’s beak.
Vinnie’s eyes snapped open…he sat up and grumbled at her in chicken talk and shook his head. I swear…it could only happen to him. He wiped his beak on the shavings…clucked and grumbled and then laid back down against Oprah. The Wyandotte had apparently taken heed of his grumbly advice and moved so that her tail was no longer in his face and she settled down to sleep.
I sat in the chair and watched for a while. Tom and everyone else, for that matter, had been exactly right. They weren’t ready for bed when I’d been out previously. Apparently, they still had things on that day’s agenda and treats were not going to change that. When it had gotten dark enough, they’d gone to bed just like they were supposed to. Cluck opened one eye now and then while I sat there to make sure that I wasn’t going to try anything funny. The females next to him were sleeping and as they slept they seemed to melt over the roosting bar. Their heads drooped low until finally they each tucked their face into their feathers as had the group on the floor had also done. It was so peaceful…just the frogs singing in the trees outside. I hated to leave, but I finally quietly got up and locked the door and headed back toward the house where I could see Lola, the Italian Greyhound, in the window, standing on the back of the sofa, waiting for me to return so that she could sit on my lap for her nighttime petting session.
The moral to the story is: You can lead a chicken to the coop, but you can’t make them roost….especially if it’s not dark enough. I suppose I’ll give credit to Tom for being right.
But just this one time.
***This post was shared on The Homestead Barn Hop!