I have two kinds of chicken tractor. One is set up like a wheelbarrow and the other is just a box. My husband and I go out and lift the box just slightly and move it a few feet once in a while. It’s needs a new top for easier cleaning and access and we don’t keep chickens in it year round. Right now it has the group I am raising to replace my current layers and the chickens we are selling or belong already to neighbors.
This week when we went to move the coop, a couple of the smart ones (yes, I know chickens are incredibly dumb, but these are smart for even chickens) decided to squeeze out underneath while we were lifting it. The rest saw them do it and all decided to try in all directions. We couldn’t just drop the coop and risk killing the ones currently underneath, so they all got out. Chickens were running in every direction! Then they had no idea what to do. It didn’t take long before they got their bearings and started foraging all over the yard. They were ecstatic.
I was out working so I decided to just let them roam for a bit. At supper time I filled up their feeder and thought this is when they will all go in and I can shut the door, but they outsmarted me. They went in groups and never all went in at the same time. I decided at dark they would probably return. My older chickens do. All I have to do at night is shut the door for them. Alas, I went out and not a single chick was in the coop.
I retrieved a flashlight and put the dog in the house because the poor guy can’t resist the little ones. He knows he will be in big trouble if he kills yet another big chicken, but you could see the slobber dripping out of his mouth while he pointed and barely resisted the urge to snatch one up. Poor guy. It was like taking a kid to a candy store and making them eat broccoli. I searched for the chickens and saw them under the quince and the kid’s slide. I thought I could shoo them towards the coop but they weren’t budging. I decided to just start grabbing them from under the slide since that was easier than thorny quince and it was going along pretty smoothly. I took one at a time and counted them to make sure I had them all. I kid you not, it was like a clown car under there. I kept pulling and pulling and it was a never-ending supply of chickens. At one point I was crouched down and placing one in the coop and looked up and one was standing and inch from my head. I have no idea where she came from. She was one of the black minorcas which are difficult if not impossible to find in the dark. Black chickens with black legs. I have to think she had roosted in the apple tree above the coop.
I got to the last chicken under the slide and thought I was one short. I thought back to how many we ordered and tried to remember how many died because they mailed them on the weekend (which will prevent me from ordering from them again). I have been telling people I have a certain amount, but that night I decided I had been telling people one more than I thought. It was late and way past my bedtime so I went to bed after shutting them all in. The next morning about 10 am another black minorca transported to in front of me wanting to go back into the coop. She was completely upset at having spent the night outside and very hungry. After some effort, I corralled her into the coop and fed them and shut the pop door. I turned around to go into the house and heard the beautiful little makeshift crow of an adolescent rooster trying out his voice for the first time. Sigh. The funny little thing hasn’t gotten out a good crow yet, but he is really trying. I’m pretty sure he’s one of the Derbyshire Red Caps. He’s not anywhere big enough to eat yet and with such a scrappy little personality I’m not sure what to do with him. I have to say he’s a beautiful little bird though. What a shame.