Urban farming doesn't seem to be our thing... This year, Sky has concentrated so much on his woodworking that he let the garden go to pots. And then, there are the hens... who I love, but I don't love getting up really early in the morning to let them out of the coop. And, even when I am up really early, I don't like having to tromp through the muddy patch in our backyard (yeah, hindsight, we put the coop in the most shady/wet area of the yard...) to let them out, and my kids don't like to do it either. If we don't let them out, the girls holler. Did you know that hens can holler? Well, yes, they can!
So, since I am a farmer-failure and don't like to tromp all of 50 feet out through a muddy patch to let the hens out...we started the bad practice of not locking the hens in at night. Hens can be pretty cool pets, in that they will put themselves to bed every night. I figured we hadn't seen any predators around at night in the past few years, the occasional opossum seemed more interested in the fruit on trees and the garbage cans...so, I happily let them put themselves to bed each night, and let themselves out bright and early in the morning to forage like very happy/busy hens. Win/win.
But oh, bloggy friends, I knew I might gamble and one night be very, very sorry.
I was awakened, at 3 a.m. one morning to the stuff of nightmares; chicken screams in the night. Yeah, they can scream, too.
I bolted upright, went running, flung open the backdoor and prepared to defend my hens...and expecting to see chicken carnage.
What I found...3 hens huddle against the back screen-door, climbing on-top of each other. I could imagine them yelling, "let me in, let me in!" I saw some feathers, but surprisingly no carnage. All 3 hens were there and all were unhurt.
We checked the hen house, saw nothing- and then I spied the rather large raccoon up a tree in front of the coop. [I think he was after the corn-feed and the hens scared him] After the hens calmed down, we picked them up and put them in the coop...no way- no how were they going to go back on their own. They kept rushing the door, gibbering- I imagine "let me out, let me out, death stalks here!" I felt pity on them, thought for a moment of putting them in the bathroom for the night-but then Sky suggested the garage.
I left the light on, so they wouldn't be afraid of bumps in the night.
It's what the mom in me said to do...
This story happened months and months ago and for months and months now, the hens refuse to go to bed in the coop. They roost next to the back door on our bench, and we have to carry them, every night, to bed.
And thus ends my tale. The moral: lock up your hens at night, trying to avoid work will bring you more work.
hens are big babies.