Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are Chickens smart? This one is...

(our G1 flock - Little Red is on the left)

Let me share with you this story...Sunday was an eventful day for us. It was the day Arrowhead was attacked. We held a funeral for her (requested by Xander). But, our day was filled with much more than just this. You see, we were up early, before dawn, with a purpose. For the past several weeks, one of our layers, Little Red, stopped laying. We thought it was because her sister was attacked and killed. Kind of traumatic...we've heard that layers will temporarily stop laying when experiencing any kind
of stress. But, Little Red had stopped producing all together. Then, we started to notice that she was disappearing every morning and returning to the group after a few hours. Hm...something was awry.

First, we SCOURED the orchard, looking for her nest. No luck. We called for her. No response(which is very abnormal - she ALWAYS clucks back to us when we call her). For the past SEVERAL days, we began watching her. Trying to catch where she was coming from. I would come out and work in the yard, and note when I noticed that she was back in the group. I timed her arrival. Then, for two days, I sat and waited for her to return at the time she normally did. Both days, she didn't return until I left. One of those days, I sat out there for THREE HOURS, and waited. When I went inside to grab a quick drink of water, I came out, and there she was. That stinker! I knew she was catching I had to think of something new.

So, there we were, Sunday morning, bright and early when the rooster crowed, out with the flock enjoying the sunrise. And I waited for Little Red to wander off. And waited. And waited. And waited. She went WELL past the time she usually wandered off. I sat in front of their hang out. She started to head off somewhere twice, but turned around and came back. It was VERY apparent that she would NOT disappear until she thought I was gone. So, I had to outsmart her. Hah! First idea (which I admit now was sort of ridiculous, but oh well) - I said, "So long chick, chicks!" and started to walk away from them, and ducked down into the long grass! I waited, quietly, and listened to her gentle clucks as she started to wander past me. At one point, I could see her through the grass - could she see me? No, she kept going. Then, it got quiet. Where did she go? I popped up to look around....when I heard a gentle cluck behind me. I slowly turned around to see Little Red looking at me with her head cocked to the side, as if to say, "Whatcha doin'?" Darn it!

Idea number 2 - since she was now following me, I led her into the chicken coop. I lay some hen treats inside, and then lay some more treats into a nesting box. She hopped into it happily. Nice! I sat there to see if she stayed. No sound. Good. I walked to the orchard fence and looked back. Still good. I went to the house and opened the door, which creaks noisily. I watched out the window. A few seconds went by. Then, out pops Little Reds tiny head! She looks right, left, up, and all around, and walks out! She looks again, tentatively, and walks slowly around the coop - darn her hide! I tried to slip back out, but that door is SO loud, and as soon as I opened it, of course, Little Red's head pops up my way! So, I pretend to start working in the yard. She goes back to creeping around... I walk a little closer, quietly, but - BLAST! - now the turkeys are following right behind me - gobble, gobble. I shoo them away, but they came right back. Why is it they follow you when you don't want them to, but they don't when you want them? Anyways, they followed me into the orchard, where I pick a few plums; Little Red, watching us, creeps over towards a small pine tree. I shoo away the turkeys, then look up - wait, she's gone! Oh, shoot! So, I run over to the tree. Surely, she'll answer my call if I call her now! I say, "Little Red, come here, chick, chick.." softly. Sure enough, she answers softly! Now where is that coming from?! I start bending down the tall grass carefully. I cannot see her at all. But I hear her RIGHT THERE! Finally, I notice just a little tiny fleck of her white tail. I say, "it's all right Little Red. See you later." And I get up, and jump in the air, pumping my arms!! I found it!! I ran in and told Josh. We discuss whether or not to move her into the coop. Yes, that's what we'll do. So, we go back out there, grab her, and put her in the coop.

How many eggs were in there?

25 eggs!!

Want to know the most amazing part? Only 3 were bad. All these eggs at one a day - that means 3 weeks, they've been sat on, super-heated by our dear Little Red, in the hot 90 degree weather, and only 3 were bad!! That's amazing!

What a SMART, funny little hen...

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