The electric fence was installed, the coop renovated and all that was missing were the girls, the 19 week old, almost ready to lay, pullets. We had put in an order for 10 of them and late last week they arrived; lovely reddish brown hybrids known as “Red Sexlinks.” They were shy, the result of being a little shell-shocked from being driven in an open crate in the open back of a truck all the way from near London, in southwestern Ontario.
We made a typical beginners mistake in letting them out of their traveling crate to wander around in their fenced yard, rather than putting them straight into their coop. We thought it wise to let them get over being jammed in the crate all day by being able to wander and explore their spacious new outdoor yard. The trouble was that, as darkness approached, they had no idea that the lovely coop in the middle of the yard was their new home and instead began settling in for the night under the trees. It would have made a hilarious video if someone had been there to take one of Sheila and me trying to catch 10 chickens and get them into their coop. They always would head straight for the areas under the trees which were protected by branches that come almost down to the ground and we ended up almost crawling under branches to flush them out. We finally got them locked away safely for the night. Then we went inside to read that new chickens should be kept locked in their new coop for at least 24 hours with food and water so that they would come to know that as “home” before being let out. The next day we did that only to find that they liked their new home so much that they were reluctant to leave it the following morning. Now, however, they do leave the coop in the morning after the door is opened and most go back in at night. But, as I write this, I notice that two are trying to settle down for the night on some tree branches. Once it is a little darker and they are sleepy, we will go out with head lamps on to bring them into their coop. (One hour later: the expedition was a success. One chicken was easily plucked out of the tree and the other had already left the tree and was bedded down under the coop).