The Chicken Diaries #5 (Perpetual Chicken Roosting Machine & The Chicken Pyramid)

Dear Diary,

The girls and I are finally attempting to get up onto the roosting bar at night as our first port of call. The human has now spent over a month tucking us in each night. He stands there every night and watches us climb up the ramp to the roosting bar, assisting those that are having a few difficulties or give up and try to sleep on the ground. What he didn’t account for is that chickens think the end of the roosting bar near the wall is prime roosting real estate and thus the perpetual chicken roosting machine is created.

Here’s how it works. The first ladychicken goes up the ramp and sits by the wall. The second and third go up the ramp and sit beside her but don’t move along the roosting bar so when hens number four, five and six come up the ramp they simply try and squeeze in between the already squatting chickens. This results in one or more roosting chickens getting pushed off the roost. The intruding chicken sits down in the newly vacated spot and the fallen chickens make their way up the ramp and once again squeeze between the sitting chickens until one of them falls off.

This will repeat indefinitely until one of the fallen ladies decides to just squat down on the floor and sleep there.

Here’s a picture showing the endless loop.

 

 

This however isn’t part of the human’s plan for us and continues every night despite the additional step he put along the whole length of the roosting bar so that we can feasibly jump onto any point of the roosting bar with ease. Obviously we choose not to.

The girls are determined to be near the ramp and wall to the point where we now form what the human calls the chicken pyramid. Whoever gets to the roosting bar first buckles in and tries to hold their ground. The incoming ladychickens however take this challenge beak on and just squat on the sitting chickens. Given that our balance has been improving over the weeks with all of Treatgod’s training this stacking effect at times can almost get to three chickens high! At this point we have achieved chicken pyramid status but it’s short lived as several of us tumble to the floor flapping frantically. Lucky for us the human has made the floor a 30cm (1 ft) thick layer of puffy sugar cane mulch so there’s no injuries other than pride.
You can see in this photo from the last diary entry the additional step up bar the human built for us along the whole roosting bar as a ramp alternative. He even put an upright piece of wood to simulate a wall half way along the roosting bar thinking one of us would opt to roost up against it. Silly human!

 

This is what a chicken sitting on another chicken looks like. Now imagine with three chickens at the bottom and two on top them what a third level of chicken would look like and that’s what we almost achieved except one of the stunt chickens at the bottom couldn’t hold it together!

Chicken Sitting on a Chicken

 

The next photo is the first phase of building the chicken pyramid. The hen resting near the wall has just realised that someone  has just climbed on her back. She is not amused.

Chicken roosting on another chicken

 

The climbing hen is checking her foundation chicken is okay and stable.

Chicken Pyramid Formation

 

We now have two layers of ladychicken! Bear in mind there are another two hens on the ground making their way to the ramp and will ultimately add themselves to the formation of the chicken pyramid.

Chicken Pyramid aka Stunt Chickens

 

 

Unfortunately our three layer chicken pyramid was all too brief and our tired human wasn’t quick enough with the camera, so with no photo it will have to remain in the realm of chicken mythology. The human eventually had a little win with two of the smartest chickens realising that there’s another full sized wall at the other end of the roosting bar. That’s me on the right !

Teaching chickens how to roost.
This going to sleep thing is exhausting. Who would have thought bedtime could be so tiring!

 

The Chicken Diaries #4 (Teaching Chickens How To Roost)

Dear Diary,

ARE YOU FRICKEN KIDDING ME !

He’s named me Lumpy!?!?!!? I am not happy about this at all. What kind of crap name is that? What happened to my exotic name like Jasmine or Scarlett? Just because I came from the egg farm with all my breast feathers pulled out and my skin exposed and well yes it’s kind of bulging, doesn’t mean I want to be lumped with a name like Lumpy.

I am so livid I could spit giblets. Look at me. I’m a beautiful lady.
Lumpy The Chicken

The worst part is I actually run to him when he calls out Lumpy. I can’t help it, after all he is Treatgod and he always has something special just for me.

Breathe in. Breathe Out. I can get through this.

In less disconcerting coop news the other ladychickens are getting more adventurous and they’re slowly picking up on the lessons the silly human is trying to teach us. Yes that’s right, we’re getting taught how to be chickens. We do learn fairly quickly given that our lives have consisted from birth of singularly being egg laying machines. Up until this point there just hasn’t been time nor opportunity to be a chicken.

He hides treats in piles of organic matter so that we have to scratch around to get to them. Sometimes it’s a simple mat of sprouted seeds that he lays out and we slowly check it out and peck at it. Other times he digs out worms and puts them in front of us and we stare at them unsure what so do. At first I thought “I’m not eating that.” After all food shouldn’t move around! But once I finished playing around with the wriggly little thing, I popped it in my mouth and boy was it delicious. Now it’s a fight to get the worms before the others do. Fortunately Treatgod always has a few spare ones that he keeps aside just for me!

It’s now just over a week and our bedtime time is still driving Treatgod carazy! Despite the fact that we’ve finally learned to go into the coop at night which he’s extremely happy about, the roosting bar is still proving to be a challenge. We’re not sure of the protocols involved as we’ve never done this before, so we kind of make it up on the fly. Needless to say things are not going well.

To stop us from sleeping in our preferred nesting box abodes, Treatgod has had to build a special hinged door in front of the nesting boxes that he can pull shut, using twine that runs to the external egg collection door. It’s basically a drawbridge he can use to completely block entry to the nesting boxes. So now when we go into the coop at night, we just stand there and screech at the barrier until we realise that it’s not activated by annoying chicken noises. The downside to this is that every night he has to come down to the coop after we’re all asleep and lower the hatch using the twine that runs to the egg collection door. He’s not a morning person as you’ve probably garnered from my previous posts so this lowering is best done at night.

He has to ensure he lowers it slowly because there’s always one silly chicken who sleeps in it’s path. They ultimately learn it’s not the best place to hunker down.

Here you can see the nesting box drawbridge in place. NO CHICKEN SHALL PASS!

 

With the nesting boxes blocked off we then look for alternative sleeping quarters which usually means a chicken pile in the corner. So to counter that, the sneaky human shoved milk crates and seedling trays in there. But we’re way too smart for him so we do our chicken pile on top of the milk crate and perch on the tray too! This confuses him even more because surely we could just go sit on the nice roost he built us which is the same height and much easier to get up onto than the crates. But no.

So he ups the ante and shoves a big roll of chicken wire in the corner. This seems to work and a lot of angry squawks result when the girls try to get to their favourite spot. Which leaves the other corners of the coop.

So those corners also get the milk crate treatment. At least these corners are closer to the roost so there’s a chance the girls will actually step onto the roosting bar. At this rate there won’t be any room in the coop at all. It’s becoming quite adversarial. Fortunately for us the human is relentlessly stubborn and continues to find new ways to train us. If he wasn’t, he’d probably give up and we’d all probably be heading to that chopping block we discussed in Day 1!

 

With all the corners blocked off our bedtime pretty much runs like this. We walk into the coop. We squawk angrily at the closed off nesting boxes. Then we turn our rage to the blocked off corners, then we head up the ramp to the roosting bar. Sometimes Treatgod will persuade us to move from squatting down in the middle of the floor with a little push towards the ramp. We eventually make our way up there.

Even with all these barriers and clues left for us on “How To Roost” there’s always one stealthy ladychicken who finds a way to beat the system. This one managed to squeeze in under the ramp designed to take us to the roosting bar.

 

Treatgod took this photo and walked back to his big blue house in resignation. It must be sad to be defeated by a bunch of silly chickens!

 

 

 

The Chicken Diaries – #3

Dear Diary,

9:00am

We’ve been up for nearly three hours now and a little bit of food wouldn’t go astray. We’ve been here for nearly a week now and two of the girls have been leaving eggy gifts each morning while we wait for our lazy human to arrive and remove this milk crate. I think he’s blocking the door to get us using the nesting boxes rather than laying in random spots. He’s had to pick up a couple of eggs laid in corners of the coop and a couple of times in the middle of the run!  This mansion may be big but I want out and when he finally arrives I’m once again the first one out the door, with the other chickenladies still need coaxing to leave.

It’s a little weird getting accustomed to new ways. The food delivery system is in the form of a bucket with holes in the side but we also get lots of treats each day. So much so that the other chickenladies have taken to calling the human Treatgod because when he brings out those tasty morsels from the big blue house he lives in, we are his most devoted and devout followers. Some of the treats include blended pumpkin with molasses and mixed grains, various fruit platters and vegetable sides as well as regular snacks of home-made yoghurt.  We’ve almost finished all the green stuff growing in the run and we can see more outside of the security door but the human isn’t letting us get to it.

The other chickens are bullying me a lot. There’s a lot of henpecking happening which we do instinctively but the human sometimes gets angry when the others all gang up and pick on me. I think I might stay close to him. They are too chicken to do anything near him (See what I did there!).

I’ve been hovering around Treatgod all day helping him make and test out a ladder plus something called a roosting bar. I have no idea what it’s for. I’m assuming roosters use it, hence the name. We keep poking our heads in the way which is making the project take much longer.

As you can see I’m the only stunt chicken that is brave enough to climb up the ladder to the food. The others just run around below and squawk at not being able to reach the treats. I may be bullied and bottom of the pecking order but I’m the one at the top of the ladder! Silly ladychickens.

The human has had to drop the roosting bar down to half the height it originally was because we have no idea how to get up there. We begin the climb up then we freak out and jump down. Because some of the girls are still struggling with balancing on the thin branches he’s used, Treatgod has made a non-gapped ramp out of the ladder so we can clamber up.  Naturally I’m the first one up testing this precarious walk up to the narrow roosting bar. To tell the truth it’s the bribes of food he places on the bar that got me up there, it’s scary stuff!

 

 

 

Treatgod also picks up the not so brave of our group and puts them on the roosting bar to get them used to it. All they do is eat the food then jump down. It’s going to be a slow process. He’s so determined to get us up off the floor. It seems he doesn’t like us sleeping and wallowing in our poop. Personally I don’t see the what’s the problem as we’re perfectly happy there.

 

6:00pm

So once again it’s dark and the human is still picking up hens from all over the chicken run and putting them in the coop. This time however he’s placing us on the roosting bar. Naturally we’re jumping down and nesting on the floor in the corner in our comfortable chicken pile. A couple of us occasionally stay on the roost for a while but most of us insist on crawling into a crevice on the ground floor to sleep.

He really doesn’t like that some of us go into the nesting boxes to sleep either. Despite his efforts to shove plant pots and bits of wood in there at bedtime we still manage to squeeze in there and sleep all crushed up in our own private studio apartment. It takes up to 15 minutes before he gives up. I think he knows that even the ones who were staying on the roost have jumped down and joined the chicken-pile the moment he’s walked away. Treatgod is not amused.

PS: Treatgod still hasn’t taken the time to anoint us with names. I really wish he would.