The Coop Unoccupied and the Stubborn Horse

It has been weeks now, weeks (!), since the coop for the silkies and their friends has been finished on the inside. It has fabulous features like cedar roosting poles and the coolest chicken ladders ever. Chickens generally go in their coop at night after they scratch around and dust themselves and eat bugs and whatever they can find during the day (and make obnoxious noises if they are roosters).

This is what the interior of their coop looks like at night with the egg door open. That opaque panel above the egg door can come down by way of a pulley system for an extra measure of protection. That is, if they went in.

new coop at night.jpg

Theoretically, when the chickens go on the cedar pole on the right (the one that looks like it’s shedding), you/we/anyone will be able to see them from outside through those plexiglass windows. Oh wait, maybe that’s the problem. No privacy! Anyone could see in at night. Maybe I have chickens with a privacy complex.

During the day there’s all kinds of curiosity. Look, they are practically lined up to check it out.

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They have no problem going up and down this outside ladder. Nevertheless the coop itself remains unoccupied, day or night. I caught three chickens one rainy day and put them in there. They stayed a while, then probably shrugged, said “Eh,” tossed their heads, turned toward the exit and left. Ungrateful wretches.

chickens inside.jpg

And that d’uccle rooster found his way back in on his own one time, and not again since.

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But by and large they avoid it like the plague. Perhaps it’s not a privacy complex. Perhaps this photo says it all. You want me to step on that??

silkie in box 1.jpg

This silkie had been put in via the brooding box through the door that is behind her. The wire mesh floor is supposed to allow the nasty stuff to go through into vinyl-lined trays below that can be pulled out from the back and (easily) cleaned. Sandy, who almost single handedly built the coop, found the idea online somewhere and it seemed reasonable. Tracy, my neighbor who has more chicken experience than I do, said she tried mesh and her chickens’ poop was too big and didn’t go through; then again hers was a double layer of mesh. Obviously I’m counting on my small chickens having small poop. Claudia, my dear friend in Germany who grew up on a dairy farm that also had chickens, suggested that perhaps the wire didn’t feel good under their feet.

It’s unnatural, really. All the dirt and mulch and stones outside under their feet all the livelong day – why would they want to go from that to this? I didn’t think chicken feet were that sensitive, but fair enough. I took Claudia’s advice and put down newspapers, then sprinkled food – yummy cracked corn — on top of the newspaper.

inside the coop with newspapers.jpg

Still no takers!

I am reminded of a specific horse, well known in the annals of time. You know, the one who wouldn’t drink.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

These darn chickens have a Ritz of a coop, and they won’t go in it. I’m leading as best as I can. But I can’t make them.

Isn’t it just like so many things, so many people? You lead, you encourage, you hope, you provide, you give, you understand, you help, you pull strings, you even finagle! You do whatever you think it might take to get them to do a good thing, a better thing, a more sensible thing. And God bless you for it. But the hard part is stopping after you have done your bit. The hard part is letting them do their bit — or not. Then waiting. Then (maybe) encouraging some more.

For now I am waiting. My birds don’t want to go in there? Fine. I do think that sooner or later they will wander in and enjoy their Ritz. Possibly one of these days one of them (let’s say a smart one) will meander up the ladder, peek in, hop in, look around and shout, Hey, girlfriends! Look at this! Check it out! Our ship has come in! Whoo-hoo!

Do you think?

Maybe they just need a little more encouragement (just like people), and I am not likely to give up. Suggestions, anyone?

2 thoughts on “The Coop Unoccupied and the Stubborn Horse

  1. Perhaps you could put a framed wire mesh flooring square outside around their feeder so that they could get accustomed with that feeling.

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