Oh, it’s so good to have a plan, isn’t it? Our plans comfort us, and guide us, and then they teach us about going with the flow when they go pear-shaped.
Last night was Buffy’s first night sleeping in the coop. That was The Plan.
On Tuesday, Buffy loved being outside. She demanded to go outside. She learned how to break out of the courtyard…to go outside.
(As a side note, Buffy often forgot where the chicken-sized opening was in the gate, and, on a few occasions, crammed herself into a corner trying to squeeze her head through the diagonal lattice. Silly chicken. Let me help you. Let. Me. Help. You.)
Yesterday at 6:30am, she lept out of the crate, ran to the screen door, and demanded to go out, as per usual. Wunderbar, I congratulated myself, all is going according to The Plan. It’s to be unseasonably warm, she’ll stay outside all day, she’ll merge with the flock, she’ll go home with them at sundown, God will be in his heaven, all will be right with the world, and we can begin to put this whole horrible drama behind us.
Every time I went out to collect eggs or check on her, I had to go looking for her, because she was not with the flock. She hung out under a big rhododendron on the east side of the house for the better part of the morning, which was fine. She was safe there. Alone, but safe. And when she saw me, she’d come running toward me to squat, and to cry.
I finally took mercy on her and brought her back into the crate for a lunchtime siesta. The girl was still injured and probably needed a power nap. She went out again around 3:30, The Plan being that she would merge with the flock at sundown and follow them into the coop.
A t 4:00, I couldn’t find her anywhere. I tried not to panic, but my nerves were well frazzled as it was. I finally heard her rustling in the leaves…inside the courtyard. She had broken back in to the courtyard. I put on my best tough love and carried her into the coop, closing the door. She was alone in there, and had been happily digging around in the sand only the day before. I had to be firm on this, although my heart was breaking. It was time.
The run was still open, so she wasn’t trapped, but I hoped the pattern interrupt would do the trick and The Plan would execute without further hitches.
At 4:30, I went into the lodge, ready to take Billie out to make boom boom, when I heard the funniest scratching sound from the courtyard. Like claws on metal. Had one of the cats sneaked outside?! I listened more closely, and it became clear what I was hearing.
It was Buffy. Back from the coop, inside the courtyard, jumping up and down repeatedly at the door, scratching her beak against the metal of the screen door, knocking.
(Gail, stop laughing. STOP.)
I felt like the worst Chicken Mama ever. I opened the screen door, and in hopped Buffy, cursing under her breath. She walked straight to the crate, hopped up and settled down on what was, now, five eggs.
A quick consultation with Chicken Debbie confirmed my suspicions. Remember how great it was that Buffy had some eggs to sit on because it kept her quiet and calm and purposeful? She had gone broody, and she was distressed at being kept apart from her eggs.
Debbie suggested we move her back into the coop, with her eggs, and she if she would settle. Out we went, me, Buffy, eggs, to the coop, now closed up with nine other inquisitive hens inside.
I settled Buffy into a nesting box with her eggs, and, trying to be deaf to her protests, closed the coop door to let nature take her course. By this time, The Man was home from work, and I had explained the situation to him. Half an hour later, when I returned to the coop to check on her, she flew out when I opened the door, into my arms, crying.
I carried her eggs back with me to the house, and she waddled after me down the driveway, muttering, crazed with relief.
I may be…you know.
I opened the lodge door to see The Man standing in the doorway to the kitchen, and we both watched as Buffy jumped back into the crate, cursing because she wanted her eggs, in her nest, NOW, dammit. She proceeded to mutter under her breath for another half hour.
Buffy slept in the house last night.
There is now a New Plan. The New Plan is to take away her eggs gradually (there are now none in the crate), let her spend time in the crate if she comes back to the lodge, but without the eggs. She can stay in the house tonight if she wants, but Friday, if she still wants the crate, it’s to be moved, part and parcel, into the coop.
And that will be that.