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Monday, 9 January 2012

Smoking Shelter Blues

When I go to let the chickens out in the morning I have a little ritual.   This involves throwing lots of pellets inside the smoking shelter, right along the whole length of it.   Then I dribble a handful of them just a little way out of the entrance.   The idea is that the chickens will spot the dribbles, then eat their way right inside.  I'm using this bit of skulduggery to get them so used to going inside, that when it rains or is windy and they fancy a change of scenery, they'll take a wander over there.   Or if they are in a thoughtful frame of mind and want to have deep, meaningful conversations with Maggie, they have somewhere private to go.

It's worked very well, it really has - but only at breakfast time and only with one chicken.   Mad Irene remembers the first time I encouraged the chickens to use the smoking shelter, using exactly this crafty technique.  So now she always hurtles out of the coop, grabs a quick mouthful of pellets at the entrance and eats her way in.   Then she'll realise that she's on her own and rush out again.   That's because she constantly worries that one of the others will have something that would be much better in her beak.  What if someone's found a worm?  How will she know if she's stuck down in the shelter?   She can't bear the idea that she might be missing the opportunity to steal something nice from one of the others. 

Irene needs the apple that Tu-Tu has made off with


It's obvious that some members of the flock pop into the shelter for a quick snack, because there's never anything left by lunchtime.   But they always wait until I've gone indoors before they sneak in.  However, I take comfort from the fact that, little by little, they are getting used to going inside.

A few days ago the weather was absolutely horrible.   The wind roared down the valley like a steam train going full pelt, and it rained on and off all day.   I read lots of horror stories about people's chicken coops being blown over, with chickens inside.   Our chicken coop stayed resolutely upright and didn't move an inch.   Just as well really, since every single one of my daft chickens had gathered in the cage beneath it.

The smoking shelter gives far more protection from the wind than ever the cage does.   So why, why, why don't they use it?   Answers on a postcard please.

2 comments:

LeAnn said...

I don't have any answers for you, but I plan to attend the Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Expo hosted by the University of Maryland on February 4. They have a whole day of classes targeted to people like us with just a few birds as well as an "ask the experts" booth and other vendors. Maybe someone there will have an answer for you. If anyone you know lives in the mid-atlantic area tell them to check it out at http://carroll.umd.edu/ag/poultry.cfm. It sounds like a fun and informative way to spend a winter day.

Shell said...

Sometimes you have to wander what goes on in a chicken's mind :) I bet if you keep up with the treats and food they'll eventually become more accustomed to the smoking shelter and use it.