We’ve fallen into a rhythm here, in terms of 2.0 sharing the coop with 1.0. First thing in the morning, 1.0 goes outside to feed, 2.0 gets the coop, and they run out their zoomies for about an hour. Around 8am, Alexia wants to lay, so the biddies are locked up in the brooder, and she gets some peace and quiet. Relatively speaking.
When she’s done, I collect her egg, escort her out of the coop (she’d be there all day, otherwise) and 2.0 gets second recess. When Abby will need the coop to lay is a bit of a crap shoot, but I like to have 2.0 put away by noonish, so Abby can have her nesting time. When she’s done, the kids have the coop until 5ish.
This system serves everyone’s needs and works really well, except when it doesn’t. I had two pretty spectacular fails today. TWO.
Alexia had laid her morning egg, and was being ushered out of the coop so 2.0 could have second recess. I made the mistake of letting them out while Alexia was still in the coop, as were Trixie and Buffy.
No big; I was there to chaperon, and supervised interaction is good. My two larger Silver-Laced Wyandottes (Alice and Dorothy, by process of elimination) flew out of the brooder, roosted on the edge of the coop border, and then took it upon themselves to leave the coop, hopping to the barn floor below.
Crap. I called to them, like an idiot, and made my way over to the coop entrance, my mind racing. I’d have to be careful; if I rushed them down the hallway, I might unintentionally chase them out into the showroom, or even outside. I moved slowly and managed to maneuver them back toward the coop entrance. When they reached it, however, they both looked up, and panicked when they realised they couldn’t get back the way they’d gotten out. Up is harder than down.
It was at this moment that I had a heart-stopping realisation of my own. There is a pretty great marriage between the internal coop door and the screen door. When the internal coop door is closed, as it is when the babies are in there alone, they form a tight seam, like a well-made puzzle, all the more remarkable when the fact that there isn’t a square angle in the whole thing is taken into consideration. From outside, it looks like this:
The join is so perfect that, given a balmy night, I will leave the external coop door open, greatly increasing ventilation in the coop. It’s completely secure. She said.
When the internal coop door is open, there is a gap between the screen door and the exterior coop wall:
I’ve worried about mice getting in through that gap, but I have never worried about chickens getting out. Until today.
Alice and Dorothy careened back and forth along the floor of the coop entrance, trying to evade me, unable to leap up to the coop ledge, and safety. I caught one of them and gently lobbed her over the border into the coop, and reached for the other…just as she slipped through my fingers and scooted out the gap. Outside. Where I couldn’t reach through to grab her.
You know what this means, don’t you? Alice went down the rabbit hole.
I had to think fast. I had to shut the coop door while I went outside to rescue her, or I risked the other biddies getting out, but there were three 1.0 girls in there, Trixie the Biddie Bonker among them. It was the lesser of the evils. I slammed shut the interior coop door and ran down the hallway, through the showroom, out the barn’s front doors and around the corner to the outside of the coop.
She had fallen two feet to the ground below, and was, again, careening back and forth along the exterior coop wall, trying to get home. It was touch and go, and it might have gone very badly, indeed, but I managed to snag her, and bring her, screaming, back to her sisters in the coop.
I thought I had a couple hours to let the kids run the coop, because Abby lays a bit later each day. When I came back to the barn to give her run of the coop, I heard the strangest sound in the coop hallway: chicken noises where there should be no chicken noises.
It was Abby. She needed to lay and was unable to access to the coop. I found her inside the second pony stall.
Bad chicken mommy!!!! Poor thing. That’s what I get for being cavalier about the nesting boxes. A girl has to have her nest!
Now, as our good fortune would have it, that is the one of our three pony stalls that hasn’t been home to rat poison, so…yay. “Hold on, Abby!” I called out, like an idiot, and ran around to the other hallway, onto which the doors to the pony stalls open.
I’ve never tried to open this stall before, and the latch was stuck. Like, really stuck. I couldn’t open it, and the walls are a good four feet high. She was on the floor of the stall, utterly ungrabbable. I entered the third pony stall and called to her, like an idiot, “Come here, Abby, jump up!” patting the four foot wall that separates the two stalls.
I was calculating how I would clamber into the second stall when I saw the look in her eye. She was thinking about it. She was thinking about jumping onto the wall. She was crouched down and concentrating…
“Come on, Abby, come on!!!” She wasn’t confident, but she knew it was her best chance of getting out. She’s one of my more distant girls, but, in her moment of need, she was going to trust her rooster. After a solid five minutes of coaxing and encouragement, she made an olympic attempt.
And missed. Her claws came up short and scraped down the sides of the wall, as the crook of her neck hooked over the edge of the wall, in an attempt to land the jump. I reached down and grabbed her on the other side of the wall, pulling her up and into my arms.
She’s in the nest now, and she gets to stay there as long as she likes.
I need a nap.