Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Way, Snow Day

The hens met their first snow the other day. We had a rather atypical storm, for Seattle, of a few inches. Even more unusual was the fact that the temperature remained below freezing for a few days, so it didn’t melt off right away.

I awoke last Saturday all excited to see the chickens have their first snowy experience. I was imagining hens frolicking and gleefully kicking up white powder.

I should preface this by saying that on a normal morning, if I take too long to get the chicken door open, I’m met with loud squawks and thumping from inside the coop. Once I open the door, the hens practically push me down to get out.

So, I jumped out of bed, put on some boots, grabbed the camera, and went outside. I flung open the chicken door as fast as I could. And what I got was this.

Then they went back to bed. A while later they ventured out onto their porch for another look.

They eventually made it this far.

An hour after that, Sarah got tired of them being so, well, chicken. So she took some leftover French toast and tossed it on the ground. They peered at it from their porch with interest, but couldn’t figure out a way to get to it without touching the unfamiliar white stuff. Millie, clearly bored but still unwilling to get on the ground, later flew over to a branch we stuck in the corner of their fence some months ago but that I’ve never seen her use.

An hour or so later, Sarah couldn’t take it anymore. She caught Flo peering from the porch and she grabbed her and flung her on the ground. Flo was so surprised that she didn’t even kick up a fuss, and then she was pretty happy to find herself face-to-face with the French toast. The other girls, seeing that Flo had ingeniously figured out how to eat the French toast without being killed by the snow, quickly followed her down to the ground.

We got another, much bigger storm today. The city is shut down, and it’s been actively snowing almost all day. We’ve been working at the kitchen table with a really good view of the chicken coop. Other than the occasional tuft of yellow near the door of the coop, we have not had any chicken sightings.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Autumnal fun

We have a fairly substantial apple tree in the yard, so autumn is all about raking leaves and cleaning up apples. This year I've had a lot of "help" from the hens. (I’d also like to give a shout-out to the squirrel or whatever rodent it is that is eating up a good number of the fallen apples.)

Turns out the chickens' gangly, taloned feet are ideally suited to raking leaves. Unfortunately, their tiny, food-obsessed brains are not ideally suited to raking leaves into neat piles.

So, here's how it goes. I rake the leaves into small piles, like this.

The chickens, who treat me as sort of the big chicken on campus, see me raking and think it's a pretty good idea. I'm always coming up with the best treats (bowls of rice, stale cereal, seeds, mushy blueberries, etc.), so in their minds, wherever I'm scratching around must be the best place to find the good stuff. Shortly after I finish raking a pile together, the hens go at it, like this.

I think I know how my parents must have felt every fall when we would "help" them rake the leaves into giant piles, only to fly into them at top speed and redistribute them throughout the yard. But hey, I guess we were cute and funny, and so are the hens.