When I tell people that I'm raising chickens, the response I get from most of my "city folk" friends, is that chickens are dumb. Well, I beg to differ. I'm not saying that they are smart. But they have a survival instinct hard wired into them and every day I'm surprised by what they've learned.
The other night, rather than pick up the girls and put them back in the box so I could carry them back to the garage, I tried to entice them with noodles (their favorite treat in the whole wide world) to follow me back to the garage. They came running but stopped dead in their tracks at the gate threshold. To them, that's where their world ends and they don't cross it. They paced back and forth and whined plaintively because they wanted the noodles. But wouldn't walk across it.
This morning I went to collect them from the brooder in the garage to take them back outside. Which means, they need to go into the box so I can transport them. Ginger practically fly's out of the brooder into the box. Coco will wait patiently while I pick her up and set her into the box.
But neither Poppy or Pumpkin want to be held these days. So they move to the far corner of the brooder. This morning, rather than trying to catch them, I simply laid my open palm on the floor of the brooder and said to them, "If you want to go outside, you'll have to hop onto my hand." And I was floored. Poppy walked right up onto my hand and let me move her to the box.
Pumpkin was more reluctant and while she would step onto my hand, she'd hop back off as soon as I picked her up. I tried, unsuccessfully, a few times and finally scooped her up and set her into the box to go outside.
Tonight, I have no doubt that they will all be lined up at the gate waiting for me to bring them back inside to sleep. It is going to rock their world the first night I leave them out there to sleep in their hen house. Course, if history serves me correctly, their first night in their hen house will be much more tramatic on me, the worrier, than it will be on them.