loony bird bin

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polka-dotty2 pretending to be a farm girl

We like to think of our place as a peaceful one – an almost-farm, a gentle haven in the middle of the city. With gardens overflowing with bounty, and fruit trees beginning to blossom, we putter around in the rich soil, or break bread with good friends at the weathered picnic table, with chickens gently clucking (or at least chirping) underfoot, whiling away the warm, sunny days.

But there are other times, say for instance, last night- in which you’ll find us banging things late in the evening, assembling various Rube Goldberg-esque constructions, consisting of anything and everything, including styrofoam insulation sheets, moving blankets, bases of old architectural site models, and boxes containing as-of-yet-unassembled ikea kitchen cabinetry, in an effort to keep the chickens safe and sound…(Let me add that eventually it was dissasembled, with many a squawk, swear, and suggestion of taping the birds to the wall, to really keep them out of harm’s way for the night. Obviously, this was not suggested by the one who slept on the couch for two nights, with her hand draped over the edge of a cardboard box so that a injured, sleeping birdie could perch upon it and feel safe and warm… )

It’s been a crazy week for the chickens – crazy enough to cause the big lapse in blog entries this past week. Our fine-feathered friends are not timid creatures- not by any stretch of the imagination- they like to go boldly forth where no chicken has gone before! And with every adventure, our increasing desperate security measures…

As a bit of background information, you need to understand the girls’ current living situation. Right now, they are housed in a big “rubbermaid” type plastic container, on the counter of our second bathroom. (Refer to the photo from the previous post to see a little bit of the setup). The bathroom itself is galley style- a long counter on one wall, and the shower + toilet on the opposite, with the circulation space being the “hallway” in between, with door openings at both ends. (This makes for easy access for us- from either the library, or the mud room – which is very helpful when cleaning). Baby chickens can’t control their body temperature until they are fully “feathered out”- the fluffy down with which they begin their lives is not enough to stay warm, so they need a controlled environment with plenty of bright light, in order to develop properly. Besides food, water, heat + light, they also eventually need a place to perch. In our case, before we had time to place one in their container, they decided that they liked the edge of the same bin (look again at the photo from the previous post). They also have another container, shorter in height, and smaller in area, on the counter adjacent to their current home, that’s more of just a “holding area” to corral them, while their home is being cleaned, and food + water changed. These days, they like to hop back and forth from one box to the other, just for fun, and a change of environment. This is generally fine, but the problem of the height above the ground, coupled with their ever-increasing curiosity and ever-increasing ability to fly, has made things a bit more crazy than usual, and at times, a bit more dangerous.

This has led to, among other mis-adventures on separate occasions, overturned boxes with chickens squawking madly underneath, a temporary limp for one, a more problematic crooked neck for another (hence the late nights on the couch, propelling us further and further into deeply uncharted crazy pet people land), and perhaps most memorably, a little house tour…

I’ve mentioned that the chickies can fly, but in a pretty limited capacity. Its really more that their wings allow them to take bigger hops and jumps- there’s certainly no grace in their frantic flapping! As they grow older, the body weight of a chicken in proportion to their wing strength and capacity, will only let them get a maximum of about five or six feet off the ground. Right now, our girls can manage about 18 inches, max- just enough to get from the floor of their bin to the top lip, (in order to perch), and back down again.

Anyway, up until this little adventure, none of them had managed to fall off and land on the floor of the bathroom, so it hadn’t occured to us that we needed to block the doorways of the bathroom, to stop them from wandering. Well, this changed when we got home that morning, just a few hours later. Usually, they go to sleep when the house is quiet, and we come home to find them perched on the rim of their container, sleepily snuggling beside one another. This time, when I peeked inside the doorway, no one was visible! As I’m about to crane my neck to peer into the bin, thinking that maybe they’re just quietly eating, B exclaims, “look!” as he points a finger into the dining room, at the far end of the house. Six little chickens, milling about- looking for crumbs (and sigh, probably finding them), under the dining table.

Aided by the Hansel + Gretel-like trail of “accidents,” we deduced that the ever curious creatures had taken a full tour of everything minus the bedrooms of the house, and had probably started their free ranging adventures only minutes after we had left!

Quickly, we rounded them up, and had them all happily chirping and eating away, with just enough time for me to sanitize, mop and scrub all the (thankfully, concrete) floors. All order was barely restored before our next guest arrived, eager to partake in some freshly-squeezed lemonade, and homemade cookies, to spend some restful moments at the weathered picnic table, with chickens happily pecking and chirping underfoot, on a blissfully warm afternoon at our ever-peaceful, idyllic oasis.

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