Tag / chicken nighttime routine

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Twister for Chickens

In my jammies saying goodnight to Oyster Cracker

These last couple of nights I have desperately been trying to figure out the girl’s sleeping arrangements.  They always seem to be mixing it up.  Finally, I am finding all four Silkies sleeping side by side on one roost together.  No one is sleeping in the nesting boxes. It has taken months to achieve this and I find myself feeling like I need to do some sort of celebration dance.  However, the other three who have roosted religiously since they were little are no longer roosting.  Last night was the first night I really decided to investigate just what is going on with their bedtime sleeping arrangement.

As I peered through the open lid of the nesting box, I found Tilly on the roost across from the Silkies.  She was asleep facing the wall.  Directly in front of Tilly were the two Buff Orpingtons laying in the shavings.  All I could see was a big round golden fluffy butt in front of me.   I reached in as far as I could.  I ruffled her tail and tried to get her to move.  She was as still as a statue.  I reached in with my other arm to see if I could gain a few inches in my reach.  It was not working.  They were content.  I began to weigh my options.  I had let them sleep like this for two evenings already.  I did not want them to start this new habit.  I determined I had to try and get them to roost.

I knew that I could not reach the girls through the nesting boxes.  I knew the Silkies were happily sleeping on the roost in front of the large double doors.  I was left with only one option; the pop door leading into the run.  I climbed into the run and opened up the pop door.  I whispered to the girls.  They replied back with sleepy chatter.

With my left arm, I reached in past Tilly’s fluffy bottom on the roost and headed straight underneath the non-compliant Buff Orpington.  It was Sunshine.  I gently nudged her upward.  Her head was underneath of Oyster Cracker’s bottom.  She was toasty warm, but she probably could have suffocated under all that fluff!  I nudged her upward and she stood.  No sooner, had Tilly stood up on the roost.  Then I saw Oyster Cracker.  Oyster Cracker was peering at me through Tilly’s legs!  She looked as though she wore Tilly’s butt fluff as a Polish Hen hat.  She cocked her head from side to side.  Sleepily she stared at me as if to say, “What are you doing Mom?”  I felt as though I had suddenly entered a game of Twister with the chickens.  Sunshine had now found herself a place on the perch and I reached in to guide Oyster Cracker out from underneath Tilly.  She is one heavy girl!  I had to reach in with my other hand and guide her to the roost.  Finally, everyone was on the roost.  I waited for a few moments.  No one stirred.

I have no idea how or why the bigger girls ended up in that sleeping arrangement.  Strangely, they all seemed comfortable.  I guess it must be how little kids feel when they play Twister.  They are so limber.  Their bodies can easily place one hand on red, reach over their friend and put another hand on blue while their legs are still on yellow and green.  I for one, find myself achy from just sleeping the wrong way at night.  But I can tell you that I am getting much better at Chicken Twister.  As I write this, I have just returned from locking up the girls for the evening.  I peeked in.  I knew exactly what to do.  I peered in through the pop door.  I confirmed Oyster Cracker’s head underneath of Tilly.  I backed out Sunshine.  She climbed on the roost.  I backed out Oyster Cracker.  She climbed on the roost.  They all settled down and this time, I had this game of Chicken Twister down to a science.  Like a well oiled machine, the girls and I performed tonight’s round of Chicken Twister to an audience of four fluffy Silkie butts.  Ironically, the Silkies missed all of the action as they were obliviously facing in the wrong direction, happily sleeping wing to wing on their roost.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Nighttime Rituals

We all have our nighttime rituals.  Most of us wash our faces and brush our teeth.  Some fall asleep while watching TV.  Others find a final escape in a good book or pillow talk before drifting off to dreamland.  Chickens are no different.  They too have bedtime rituals.

It all starts at dusk, with the ever so entertaining, who gets to go into the coop first.  If the Silkies are broody, they are all set.  They are all ready hiding in the nesting boxes.   They do not have to fear the wrath of the bigger girls, jockeying for their favorite places on the roosts.  It always seems that Dolly and Fifi are the last to sneak in under the cover of almost complete darkness.  Goodness knows that if they try to sneak in too early, after a few squawks, they are shooed back out into the run to wait a bit longer.  Finally, once everyone is inside, Tilly always pops out for a quick look to be sure her entire flock is secure for the night.  Sometimes she come completely out into the run for surveillance and other times, she pokes her head out of the coop door.

Most of them have a snack and drink right before bed.  They take sips from the waterer and they peck at the pellets in the feeder.  For chickens, these snacks are essential in forming perfect eggs as they sleep in the night.  Once content, they find a place on the roost.

Just as we have our own bedrooms and beds, the girls have a roosting order.  The Silkies prefer to sleep in the nesting boxes, most likely because they are broody all the time.  It seems like every evening, I scoop them up and place their drowsy bodies onto the available roost.  Last night was no different.

I opened up the coop’s nesting box lid and found a Silkie in each box.  Dolly was snuggled in next to Oyster Cracker on the roost closest to her Silkie sisters.   One by one, I scooped up three growling Silkies and gently placed them on a roost all in a row.  Then, it happened.  Dolly hopped off the roost and began to walk around the coop in the darkness.  Guided by the light of the moon, she took a few bites of food and joined her Silkie sisters on their roost.  As I watched my four sweet Silkies, they gently wriggled their bodies side to side moving and squeezing in wing to wing.  I watched as they nestled down to cover their toes with feathers and fluff.  Apparently, not only is snuggling universal but who you wish to snuggle with is universal too.

 

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Sleeping Arrangements

I have been curious as to where the girls are sleeping at night.  Yes, I know they are all in the coop, but how do they arrange themselves.  Do they spread out amongst the two roosts?  Are the mini-chickens still sleeping in the nesting boxes with their Moms?  Do they have a specific order or any routines now?

Last night, I took advantage at dusk. I had returned from working in the school yard garden. Dirty and tired, I collapse and sat in front of the run.  I noticed that Autumn, Fifi and Dottie Speckles were still in the run.  This did not surprise me as they are the lowest in the pecking order.  No sooner had I sat down, when Autumn went into the coop.  She was met with a few low clucks and then everything inside the coop went quiet.  Outside, Dottie and Fifi were still trying to figure out if the big girls would let them in.  They both nervously hopped up, over and under the coop ramp; speaking to each other in mini-chicken peeps as they did so.  As the minutes passed, darkness soon began to consume the little remaining daylight.  Finally, Fifi scooted in and Dottie followed immediately.  They were met with a few loud thumps and squawking.  What the heck was going on in there?

I waited a few moments, then closed the coop door.  I retrieved the waterer and emptied it of the remaining water.  The coop went quiet.  Then I stole a glance through the nesting boxes.  I was met with tiny elongated stretching necks coming from the right nesting box.  It was Feathers and Dottie.  They were both in the box.  I stroked their little heads as if to let them know they were safe.  Then I peered at the roosts.

The roosts are about 3 feet long.  In the coop, I have two, totalling 6 feet.  However, the favorite roost is the one closest to the front windows.  On that roost, in this order was Oyster Cracker, Tilly, Sunshine was on the floor in front of them, Dolly then Autumn.  I closed the nesting box.  Knowing that Sunshine usually moves to the roost, I was curious to see where she slept. 

I returned about 10 minutes later.  I could no longer see Sunshine’s body pressed up against the window.  I peeked in again.  Everyone had decided to cram their 8 bodies onto one 3 foot roost!  Sunshine,Oyster Cracker, Tilly, Dolly, Autumn, Feathers, Fifi and Dottie Speckles were all there and in that order!  It was truly an amazing feat.  They were all snuggling, happy and sleeping.  I left with a happy fuzzy warm feeling and returned to the house.  I guess I won’t complain so much when the kids want to come into our bed in the morning for a snuggle.  The chickens have inspired me to “make room”.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Bedtime Routines

The flock seems to be so happy that the days are getting longer.  They are starting to lay more eggs and each day they seem to be returning to the coop a tad bit later each evening.  I am starting to find the routine comical.  In the evenings, I peer out the window to see if the flock has gone in for the night.  I don’t dare open the garage door to let them know that I am coming.  They are so curious.   As soon as I venture outside, there they are in the run staring back at me wondering if I brought them any treats; those silly chickens.  I tell them to go to sleep. I return inside and then wait 5 minutes more.  At some point,  this week I realized that I could no longer go out at the same time everyday.  The days are indeed getting longer.  I also find that this is starting to remind me of bedtime with my kids, only I don’t find it as amusing.  “I need water.”  “I need the light on.” “Will you stay?”  Many return trips have often yielded a cranky mom.

Last night, I went to put the flock in around 5pm.  They were all inside.  I could hear low chattering and peeping that they do to one another.  They make their rounds saying goodnight to each other and checking to make sure everyone is okay.  Quietly, I opened the run.  As I was closing the coop door, I whispered, “Goodnight”.  Like popcorn, out came Meesha and Feathers.  It was too funny.  Again, I found myself waiting for them to go back inside.  I am glad that my chickens are happy.  I think that they are starting to sense that half of winter is now behind us.  If only I can get my timing right and remember that bedtimes are never easy for kids and apparently chickens.