Here’s the problem with Plan B: dividing the run into two sections meant that Goldie and Marguerite had only one way to exit the run–up into the coop and out from there. Do you know what it’s like to get two chickens with limited intelligence to come up into the coop for reasons other than laying eggs or going to roost for the night? It’s, well, quite impossible. Even with bait–spaghetti, blades of grass, romaine, you name it.
So this morning, after a sleepless night filled with intermittent dreams of caged songbirds escaping, I was thrilled to see the baby hens fared just fine in their first night in the outdoor run. Whew! I wasn’t so afraid of something getting in, but of how frightened they might be without the protective surroundings of the garage walls. And after a few late-night ear-presses against the screen to listen for any alarms, I decided to put my big girl panties on and let them deal with it.
This morning, I decided that it wasn’t realistic to expect Goldie and Marge to learn a new exit route from their cage. I needed a new plan for the baby hens. One that would allow the big girls to get in and out of their enclosure the way they know how. So I constructed a new baby hen enclosure that hugs the side of the run, thereby giving the big gals some passing space to get in and out through the door. And I thought (stupidly) that while I set up the new enclosure, why not let them hang out a little bit together? They were–so far–getting along swimmingly living in close quarters. Was I wrong. Opened their cage and out they scurried, much to the shocked surprise of the big girls. Marge reacted with multiple raised-wing full-throttle pecks on the babies while they scurried about in panic. Goldie just sat there, wings raised, squawking and bokking at the wrongness of it all, and I finally corralled the little ones back into a cat carrier and hauled ’em out of there while I built the new mini-run.
And it is done! They are back inside their new enclosure, the big girls have exited through the doorway for some much-needed backyard time, and my heart rate has returned to normal. This will be about all the “hen integration” that will be happening for a few more days, at least. And next time I let them meet, it will be in less-cramped quarters, maybe at dusk, when everyone is in calm moods. Time, time, time. Need to give it more time. And maybe the new plan will be to allow the babies free-range time in the larger run, while the big gals are in the backyard. Let them do this for a few days, then let them explore the same outdoor area for a few days, and THEN let them share the same coop/run space. Yes, I think that’s the ticket.
The babies’ new enclosure inside the big run.