Big girl bed. The reality show.

Here are words, it turns out, that one should never say: “The new normal has finally arrived.” The second one says these words, the gods laugh and decide to mess with one.

Remember The Plan? All my hard work to set up the next stage of integration in my little flock? Ha, I say. HA!

Right off the bat yesterday, 2.0 made it very clear that they were no longer interested in keeping themselves restricted to The MacGyver Terrace. I knew that they knew how to get out, and they knew that I knew that they knew. But we had an agreement that they would stay there anyway, because it was safe and fun.

There have been a few breakouts, but the re-incarcerations were sufficiently traumatic that breakouts were kept to once daily. Until yesterday.

I gave up. They had seen Paris, and I could no longer keep them down on the farm. The members 2.0 are now part of the free-ranging flock, full time. It’s nerve wracking, and, I’m sure, ill advised. They are still so very portable.

And yet, their instincts are sound. They’ve been sticking to the sides of the barn where the grass is long, Junk Jungle, and the old garden, which hasn’t been ploughed under yet and is its own jungle. They spent the whole afternoon yesterday inside the coop, dustbathing.

I’m trying not to panic about it. They’re smart and they’re fast and maybe the hawks will think they’re crows. The Man and I discussed it, and we came back to the philosophy we agreed upon when Angelina was taken by the fox last summer: let’s let chickens be chickens, and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. Until we suffer significant losses, we will operate under this credo. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

That’s how the day went. But what about the night?

I was so interested to see how this next phase of integration would go that I actually parked myself in front of the open coop door at 7:30pm to watch them all settle in for the night, camera at the ready.

That cute little training roost I set up for 2.0? The one they used in the run and in the coop all during the day? Completely ignored. It became clear early on that 2.0 intended to sleep on the real roost in their first night of freedom, thank you very much. They carved a space out for themselves by the screen door while 1.0 was still eating and drinking. See the Heedley’s Hens Facebook Page for video (“Integration roulette.”)

In the end? There were fourteen chickens on the roosts, two more than were ever intended when it was constructed, with a huge space between the two generations:

This is temporary. This can’t endure, for two reasons: a) the roost was missing two big girls last night, the two broodies, and they will eventually come back to the roosts (they’ll come back, right? RIGHT??!!), and; b) 2.0 will grow. It’s one thing for them to cram together at one end of the roosts, now, but in two or three weeks?

Now, as this was all happening (and I found it fascinating to watch), 2.1 was having their own little drama. They were screaming to get out of the crate, trying to push themselves between the bars. What the?! It was a little disturbing to watch. They cried and ran around hysterically. Was it being left out of all the roosting? Was it because night was falling and their night light has been removed?

I left the coop to the sounds of their screams feeling like one very bad chicken mommy. I came back an hour later to listen and was greatly relieved to find the coop silent.

This morning, I was greeted, not by 1.0, as usual, but by 2.0, waiting to be let out of the run. Ha!

The 15 Puzzle made another move, and now it’s 2.1 that is hanging out in the run today, for the first time. It’s going to be a very, very hot day, and I’ll post later about how we’ll be handling that at Heedley’s Hens…

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