Monday, November 14, 2011

Party in Da Coop!

"Oh, NO!" I exclaimed, suddenly wide awake. I looked at the clock. It was 1:03 a.m. "I've gotta go out to the coop!" I practically yelled, startling my husband out of a deep sleep. "Wha. . . ?" he tried to mumble. "I think I left the light on in the coop when we put the chickens in this evening." "No, no" he protested, "I'm sure you turned it off. At any rate, you are NOT going out there in the middle of the night." But I was already up and heading downstairs. I went to the mud room and slipped on my boots, grabbed a flashlight and trekked across the yard and through the gate into the barnyard. And there it was: a beacon shining in the night. "Oh, NO," I repeated to myself. Our poor chickens won't have gotten a wink of sleep.

Unlike the members of our own species, chickens are religiously devoted to getting up with the sunrise and going to bed with the sunset. If it's dark, they'll sleep. If it's light, they won't. Generally, then, when we put the chickens in the for evening, we don't turn the coop light on at all, but my twin sister and her four-year-old daughter had just arrived from Asheville that afternoon for a visit, and I thought they would enjoy getting to see our little ones come in and peck around at their food and water for a while. I meant to come back and turn off the light after closing up the rest of the barn, but of course it completely slipped my mind. Until 1:03 a.m.

Most of our 9 chickens are still only 8-10 weeks old, and--being the mother that I am--I have been fretting a bit as they've transitioned from life at the hatchery. Are they eating enough? Does Zebra Zuzu (the Delaware pullet) have a cold? Is Captain Haddock (the Dominique cockerel) getting hen pecked? Are they warm enough at night? And now, I thought, I've traumatized the poor things by depriving them of a good night's sleep on the coldest night we've had this season.

Sure enough, when I opened the coop door, not a single chicken was on its perch. All nine of them were on the ground, dancing around the feeder, happily dazed with lack of sleep, drunk on an overdose of chicken feed, and noisily clucking their "Party Time!" tunes. I apologized profusely, cut off the light, and headed back to the house, chastising myself for my l forgetfulness.

I was soon back home settling into bed, and telling my long-suffering husband "I knew I'd left the light on" (i.e., "I'm so glad I didn't listen to your nay-saying"). He didn't answer, so I assumed he was irritated and just wanted me to shut up and sleep. But after a few minutes it began to dawn on me that he wasn't in the bed at all. I called softly into the bathroom. No answer. I peeked in. He wasn't there. I went down the hall to check the girls' bathroom. No one there either. A few minutes later I found him standing outside the front door, shivering with cold and much less happy than the chickens. He had come to make sure I was fine, and while he'd gone around the back of the house, I'd come back around the front and locked him out in the cold!

Not surprisingly, neither of us got much more sleep that night than the chickens did. Fortunately, young chickens seemed to handle sleep deprivation much better than middle-aged humans.

Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
(by Jack Prelutsky)
Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see . . .
when I woke today, I noticed
there were eggs on top of me.


Anonymous said...

My crew and I really enjoyed help your dream become a reality.....Bob

Anonymous said...

Me encanta, Jenniecita!! I would have done the same thing!