Thursday marked dual milestones in the lives of my four little chickens, who decided it was time to not only venture outside the coop during the day, but to roost at night.
The first experience was all excitement and wonder. Impelled by the uncontainable energy of youth, they ran about the run and peered at the yard beyond. The world, they must have thought, just keeps getting bigger:
The second experience was all about anxiety and uncertainty. The chicks are nearly 8 weeks old, and the “prey” switch had suddenly flicked on in their wee bird brains; they understood, emphatically, that the ground is not a safe place to sleep. They knew they needed to go up, but they weren’t quite sure how or where, and as darkness descended, their distress became audible:
Like meddling mothers everywhere, I tried to help, and — like meddling mothers everywhere — made things worse. Before it was over, the chicks had been up and down several roosts several times, climbed fences, perched atop waterers, and, briefly, on me:
I eventually got them situated on the junior roost I’d mounted in the corner of their pen and, exhausted, we all slept. And at 9:30 the next night, when I checked on them after a late shift at work, I found this:
They had figured it out themselves. My youngsters are growing up.