The 15 puzzle.

You’ve played this, right?

Today, I learned that this game is called “The 15 Puzzle” for reasons which are self-evident from the photo above. Why did I go searching for the name of this game? Because The 15 Puzzle best exemplifies life with Heedley’s Hens these days, and I wanted to be sure we were on the same page.

This is my first year with more than one generation, made all the more complex by the addition of 2.1 (my unplanned “love children”). We have always had more than sufficient space and housing for 1.0, but keeping 1.0 separate from 2.0 requires some juggling. Throw in 2.1…you get the picture.

At the moment, 2.1 is the infant in the crib. They need attention and extra care, but they’re contained and easy to manage. 2.0 is the six-year old, full of energy, in need of space in which to expend energy and the hiding of matches and knives. Up to now, keeping them in check has been straightforward, if increasingly hectic.

But what happens in, say, two weeks, when it’s 2.1’s turn to run rampant in the coop, or spend a sunny day outside in the found crate? As if that weren’t enough, I need to look ahead to the second week of June when, should the turkey gods smile upon me, I will have new poults to shelter and tend, as well.

(Yes, I’m insane. We’ve covered this. Catch up.)

The answer is: it’s time to bring the run into play. Yes, we have a run. Quite a large one. Our original, fervid intent was that 1.0 would be in the coop and run at all times, unless closely supervised. Needless to say, things didn’t work out that way; I don’t even know where they are right now. But this does not in any way detract from the fact that The Man built a gorgeous run, a modified hoop coop, a demi hoop coop, if you will:

It is an elegant bit of work that extracted much swearing, blood, and the throwing of tools from both of us. The Man even drilled a hole through my left thumbnail in the doing. (Sorry, baby; it’s too good a story not to tell. It was an accident.) That our relationship survived its building is a very strong sign for the future.

In my narrow, stubborn mind, I’ve been “saving” the run for the turkeys. Remember, gentle reader, that we were to get our poults April 6; I had been planning on them spending their days in the spacious, largely-unused run. So, I’ve been going crazy moving 1.0 and 2.0 around from day to night positions, from rain to sunny positions, open coop, closed coop, zipped brooder, open brooder, just like The 15 Puzzle, when a voice in my head said “use the run, Luke”. It was Alec Guinness’ voice, which is weird.

So, yesterday, 2.0 was introduced to the run. They were terrified of the hole in the coop wall, of course, the one that leads outside, and I had a merry time getting them out the pop door. I had pre-strewn the ramp with dandelion petals, so, what gravity didn’t accomplish, the dandelions did, and 2.0 was soon inside the secure run.

They have a feed and water station:

Cool stuff to hang out on and climb:

And even their first glimpses at themselves:

And their larger world:

The run is, by design, large enough for human occupation, and I’m hoping that spending time with them in there will lessen their fear of me. At present, the bravest is…Gidget. Gidget the Brave.

Getting them back in the coop? That was another matter entirely. I had forgotten that 1.0 didn’t just “get” the ramp; they had to be taught, and it was excruciating. I returned to the run, dressed up for an evening out, with the task to accomplish of getting 2.0 up the ramp, into the coop, and in their brooder for the night.

They are at the age where they are old enough to be fast, but small enough to be slippery. Rather than the pretty, ordered march up the ramp I had envisioned, I ended up corralling them, terrified (again!), grabbing them a handful at a time and tossing them through the open pop door. Actual tossing. When I just placed them gently at the top of the ramp, they came back down again. I’m glad no one was there to witness the mayhem; let’s leave it at that.

So, 2.1 is still ensconced in the crib, right? They’re only a week old, so no outside time yet, right?

Not so fast, sister.

The found crate has been lying empty for quite a while now. I plan to use it as the poult brooder (turkey gods willing), inside the barn, once it has been secured. But I see no reason it shouldn’t serve as the outside pen for 2.1 in the meantime. I could have left them in the brooder, but they are so damned camera shy I haven’t been able to get any pics of them, and it was pissing me off.

In transferring them to the found crate, I was finally able to pull out the remaining green goo from the blue chick’s butt, so, she’s not very happy with me right now. An involuntary Brazilian wax at one week of age is a little hard to forgive, but, hey…her bum’s finally clean and she won’t die of pasty butt.

The pics suck, but we’re working on it. Here is 2.1, in their first outing, at one week of age:

(Please note the multi-level blankie action under the Brinsea. They get to choose how close they want to be to the heat. I’m just that good.)

And the names have settled, it seems. Marilyn (at left), Ava (at right), and Audrey (middle), who, if I’m not careful, I will end up calling Kate Jackson. I really hope Marilyn and Ava turn out to be some flavour of blue. That’s what led me to choose them.

All of this juggling now means that the coop is open all day, and, Abby notwithstanding, 1.0 can return to some semblance of their normal routine. Which is good, because they’re laying is way off and I believe the stress is to blame.

It’s not easy being the eldest.

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2 thoughts on “The 15 puzzle.

  1. Ah, Gidget the Brave – I laughed out loud right there!!! That chicken hoop coop is beautiful, though. Would it be possible to just make that their home and then move the love children into wherever verion 2.0 are currently (I’m keeping up, I swear! 1.0, 2.0, 2.1…)? Did I get distracted and miss that part?

    Just reading this pulls me into the general frenetic-ness of life with the girls. A lovely, wonderful frenetic-ness! Frenetissitude?

    • Yeah, the run isn’t quite secure enough for my liking. I’m confident using it during the day, but…let’s just say it’s not quite as Fort Knoxy as The Man would like to believe. I sleep better knowing the babies are all within the confines of the barn.

      They were a little better at the ramp today. Still quite an adventure trying to get them to go to bed!

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