Two days ago, I took pity on the kids of 2.0. Ever since they were moved into the run for the daytime hours, they’ve been missing out on pasture, and they’ve made their dissatisfaction known by rushing to get past me every time I open the run door. They are fast.
I took a 25-foot long piece of plastic chicken wire fencing and whipped up an outer terrace around the run, and around the run door. To call it makeshift would be an insult to makeshift things. 2.0, however, loves it.
There have been a few breakouts, such as when they tipped over the plastic dog dish that’s holding the fencing against the rebar…hey, I did say it was makeshifty. I need to check on them every once in a while to reincarcerate the escapees. They don’t go far; that’s not my concern. My concern is that they’re still small enough to be very tempting targets for aerial predators. As in, I’ll have my chicken to go.
I’ve been in the habit of tucking 2.1 and 2.0 into their beds at around 5pm. This means I can open up the coop and the run, to let 1.0 have their leisurely dinner and stroll, culminating in snuggling in for bed.
I was watching 1.0 do their twilight thing this evening when I was either inspired or possessed; it remains to be seen. I let 2.0 out. Of the pink gazebo. And the coop. And the run. Like, OUT out. With 1.0.
Holding my breath, I watched and waited, coiled to intervene, if necessary. It’s been some weeks since they’ve interacted, and 2.0 have more than doubled in size. That said, they are still eight weeks shy of 15 weeks, the recommended age for integration with adult chickens, when they are of a size.
2.0 made a beeline for the pop door, then the run door, and were out grazing with 1.0 in a matter of seconds, without incident. Goodness knows there’s enough space that there needn’t be friction, but…I went around to the outside of the run, just to be on hand. As it happened, Tallulah needed two strong warnings to stay away.
Then, when I could bear the mosquitoes no longer, I herded them all into the run, 1.0 and 2.0 alike (which wasn’t quite as smooth as I’m making it sound; 2.0 was afraid to enter the run with 1.0 feeding right at the doorway, and Alice led me a chase). I went around to the inside coop door to see what would happen as the sun went down.
1.0 entered the coop, one by one, and each found a place on the roosts. I boosted Tallulah to save myself a trip later. 2.0 was clearly nervous, but it was all very harmonious. Which is good.
What is less good is that 2.0 didn’t want to sleep in the gazebo, thank you very much. They have roosting fever, and they were determined to find the highest spot possible to sleep. Getting them into the gazebo was only possible because Pip, on her way into the coop, happened to be blocking the pop door. And when Mighty Pip blocks a doorway…it’s blocked.
As it happens, I had just broken it to The Man this afternoon that I have yet another chicken-related construction project for him. In three or four weeks, I explained, I want to remove the gazebo and set 2.0 up on their own ladder roost, thusly:
Our current roosts cannot accommodate another nine hens. If a ladder roost, such as the one above, were to be made from lightish-weight materials and hinged where the roost meets the wall, I could lift the bottom of the roost and chain it to a ceiling hook for ease of cleaning poop underneath. That’s The Plan, anyway.
Given the results of tonight’s experiment, that deadline may be pushed forward. Tonight would have been a breeze if 2.0 had had a roost of their own to settle on. 2.1, of course, will be crated for a few weeks longer.
That said, tonight’s harmony may well have been beginner’s luck. Let’s try it a few more times before we put away the gazebo, m’kay?