A Chicken Story: Transitioning from House to Coop

chicken story w words
I posted last month, my confession that we had two chickens living in our house.

I really enjoyed having them around, but with fall approaching (which means winter is soon to follow) I knew they had to transition to sleeping outside with the rest of the flock.

They slept in a sturdy, but slowly deteriorating cardboard box in our foyer. During the daytime they would go outside and free-range. They stuck together and generally kept to themselves away from the rest of the flock, at the opposite side of our yard. But for the past few weeks they had been venturing around and mingling with the other chickens. They even met the roosters… which, ahem, appeared they didn’t care for. Their curiosity towards the other chickens, and general acceptance by the roosters and most of the other ladies solidified the fact that it was time they moved out of our house.

Night 1 in the Coop
We waited until the rest of the chickens had taken their spots on the roosts.

The two house chickens came to the front door of the house to be let in, as usual. Tonight would be different. Instead of opening the door and inviting them into the house, Karl and I each picked one up and carried them through the yard to the coop.
chickens at door
We set them inside the coop and stood back to watch. They pretty much freaked out. I almost aborted the plan, but then had a great idea. I had Karl run to the house and get their cardboard box. We put the box in the coop and put them in it. They immediately calmed down. Frankly, I probably should have thought to do that in the first place…

I got up extra early the next morning to check on them and make sure their first night went smoothly.

Night 2 in the Coop
Again at dusk, the two chickens were at the front door of the house. Instead of carrying them over to the coop, I used a small bowl of food and enticed them to follow me. I think they’d jump off a cliff if I threw a bowl of food over it…

I let them eat a few bites, then moved about six to eight feet towards the coop. We repeated this about ten times until we reached the coop. In they went, and into their box for the night.

Another successful night in the coop!

After a couple nights in the coop, these two chickens were hanging out with the rest of the flock all day long. It almost seemed like they felt they belonged. Or maybe they were officially initiated. I’m sure they liked hanging out with a bunch of their own instead of being outcasts and spending their evenings with Karl and me.

Night 3 in the Coop
Let me preface this by saying: I might be a really, really bad chicken mother.

We were scheduled to be gone all day and not return home until just a little after dark. We kept the main flock in their coop and run, but let the two house chickens (and the ducks) free range all day while we were gone. I didn’t think it was a good idea to confine the two house chickens in a small space with the rest of the flock just yet. I figured that when we returned home in the evening I would find the two house chickens waiting for us, hunkered down at the front door or somewhere close by in the bushes.

Well, we got home well after dark and there were no chickens at the front door. My heart sank. We grabbed our flashlights and searched the entire yard. Three times over. After 30 minutes, feeling guilty and horrible and defeated, we were about to give up. I asked Karl, “did you look in the duck house before you closed the ducks in for the night?”

We ran over to the duck pen, and there they were. Quiet and scared and in the very back corner of the duck house. We could barely believe it! We picked them up and carried them over to the coop and put them in their box for the night.

What smart chickens! Of all the places- to go into the duck coop with the ducks (who they don’t really care for). They picked the best, safest location to hole up for the night when they had no where else to go. I just keep imagining them coming to the front door of the house and realizing they aren’t getting let in and it’s getting dark. So they make the decision to walk 100 yards to the duck coop and sleep there. They are like smart little people. I was so proud of them. And so happy. And so relieved they were safe.

It was one of those things that we just couldn’t stop talking about for the rest of the night.

Night 4 in the Coop
No chickens showed up at our front door tonight (maybe they learned their lesson after last night, ha!).

Where were they, you ask?

They put themselves to bed in the coop with the rest of the flock. And they even hopped into their cardboard box all by themselves. We have the best chickens!

And the rest is history.

They are now card-carrying members of the flock. They eat, sleep and hang out with everyone everyday. The seem to fit right in (they did all grow up together as chicks, maybe that helped). It’s like they don’t even remember that they slept in the house with us for months, that I hand fed them special treats every day, and that I made them a fort in my tomato bushes.
chicken gang

They quickly became the head rooster’s new favorite gals. Which quickly elevated them to top of the pecking order. It’s like they are the head cheerleaders hanging out with the quarterback of the football team. I’m just glad that everyone is getting along and they have such a good rooster to take care of them. I swear he spends half of his day kickin’ up ‘hoppers for them.

Yes, “kickin’ up ‘hoppers.”
buddy and gals
I am just so thankful that this process of transitioning them from the house to the coop went so smoothly- about as good as I could have imagined. Who knew chickens were so smart and adaptable?!

 

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