Flying the Coop

I said I would have more poultry stories; here we go!

While there are always hens that fly over the fence, some of them are only first timers and after I put them back, they tend to stay happy on their side.  But, there are a few exceptions to this general rule.  One of the biggest violators is Cream Puff, she has no problem flying over the fences.  A few years back I was fighting escape-ee chickens and accidentally stumbled upon the “Box.”  I needed a way to discipline them, and so I would catch them and put them under an upside down box with a weight on top.  The first violation would be 10-15 min. in the box, the second would be 20, and on up to 1 hour or more!  Most of them learned, with a few exceptions–like Cream Puff.

The difficult part with this hen, is that she doesn’t contain the trait called friendliness.  If I am holding treats, then she will be there, but otherwise she would be content to stay as far away from me as possible, and certainaly never be held.  So often the only solution to getting her on the other side is to shoo her back through a gate.

This is where I learned a very interesting chicken dynamic, (and human)…

When she flies into the back yard, she lands in the far right corner.  The chicken area butts up to the back fence but doesn’t go all they way to the gate on the far left.  So my little Cream Puff happily scratches around for a while and meanders here and there, until I show up.  My objective is to either catch her or to shoo her thought the gate.  When I arrive she instantly goes into tunnel vision.  She is going to fix it for herself.  She paces back and forth running franticly trying to find a hole to slip through.  No matter how long she has looked one part of the fence over, she will continue with the same area.  I guess one lesson I could learn is determination and persistence against all odds; she has that.

Now the frustrating part is that the gate is only a few more paces to her left, and if she would just go a little further, she wold find the opening.  So here is where I step in.  I gently coax her to go a little further.  But the moment that she gets a little beyond her comfort zone,  she darts back to her “safety.”  I walk back and try again.  The more times she runs back, the harder it becomes for me because she is spooked, and she knows that she can return to her section of the fence.

Finally, we get to the gate and she dashes through to the coop.

Every time I operate this maneuver, I am amazed by the inability of my chickens to trust me for a moment to go a little further than they are used to.  They get stuck in a rut and can’t get out.  We humans do the same, we desire safety, and for fear of loosing it, we stay where it is dangerous, pacing “our section of fence”.  We don’t trust God enough to venture somewhere unknown because it means leaving our comfort zone, our own striving, because we feel like we need to fix it, we need to find our own hole to slip through.

But it is always easier to let God show us the gate.


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