You may have noticed that the past week or so has been a tad on the chilly side.
When we built the bathhouse for the chickens, it was in an effort to 1) give them a sun-warmed place to bathe and gather and b) get them the hell out of the garage and off the hay bales. The chickens, of course, completely ignored the bathhouse for weeks after we built it.
But now, almost a month later, during the coldest of the coldest, the flock has decided to humor us and give this bathhouse thing a whirl.
Upon returning from the Minnesota weekend, I went out to find a suspiciously empty garage. The barn cats’ food hadn’t been devoured by the chickens (as had become their practice) and I started to wonder what was up. Expecting to find all the birds roosting in the coop since temperatures were hovering around negative freezing and a half, imagine my surprise when the coop was practically empty as well.
It was at this point that I turned around and saw that the typically empty bathhouse was seemingly populated by what looked to be chickens. Upon closer inspection, I verified that the inhabitants were indeed chickens, but not so much of the bathing variety.
Almost every single chicken on this farm (somewhere around 30 at last count) was crammed into the little house and were simply standing there.
I believe that I have, in the past, mentioned that chickens are incredibly weird.
So, they stood there ALL DAY and then went into the roost at night. A handful of them ventured out periodically to lay eggs, but then presumably returned to the standing around. I was simultaneously pleased (they were finally using the bathhouse!) and mystified (what is with chickens, anyway?).
When it was time to close up the coop for the evening, I did a quick head count. We do this almost nightly because we have such frequent losses due to foxes, raccoons, and hawks. We were short four birds.
There is no way that four birds would be taken in one day; that would be unprecedented and just too unlikely. As I started to look around for the missing poultry, it occurred to me that we also have four Brahmas.
I don’t know how much time I’ve devoted to writing about the ridiculousness of the Brahmas, but they really deserve a good chunk. Brahmas are beautiful and docile, they don’t seem to lay eggs (on this farm anyway), and they are stupefyingly bad at being chickens.
Over the summer, we had the Brahmas in the temporary coop with a number of other birds which were then too small to be integrated into the main flock. Every night we had to collect them from outside the coop and carry them inside to roost. This is totally normal for a chicken learning where s/he lives and figuring out how to roost. What is not normal is that the Brahmas had no learning curve at all. They never got it. We had to carry them in, nightly, for months. It was absurd.
When we moved them to the main coop, the process stared all over again. This time, however, they would “roost” not only outside the coop, but outside the coop fencing, around the corner, and tucked into a little spot between the fence and the wall. They were almost eight months old before they decided to manage the journey into the coop unassisted.
So, I had a pretty good idea who was missing and where I might find them.
Sure enough, while everyone else was roosting and ready for bed, this gang of four was still stuffed into a corner of the bathhouse, wondering where everyone else went.