Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two Ways of Doing Things

(First published in The Oxford Journal, Nov. 16, 2011)

Around here, there are two ways of doing things: the way it’s always been done, and my way.
When the time came to move the five-month old pullets into the main coop, I was told we had to wait until night time when the hens are subdued, dumbed down by the dark. 
Opening up the door to the chick hut, I saw one large white pullet perched on top of the feeder so I grabbed her and snuggled her against my chest. She didn’t make a sound in my arms as I carried her across the lawn. Inside the coop, I held her over a roost until her feet grabbed on. She was now in her new home.
One down, 14 to go.
My husband was inside the hut when I returned. He was grabbing the nearest pullet and shoving it into the cage sitting on the ground outside. Then he grabbed another and shoved it into the cage. It was grab-and-shove until the cage was standing room only. The hens in the cage and inside the hut were protesting loudly. Chickens are such drama queens. 
We picked up each end of the cage and lugged it to the coop where he hauled a bird out of the cage then dumped it onto the floor inside the coop. The six pullets were squawking and flapping, completely disoriented because the coop was much different than the hut and the roosts were four feet off the ground and already occupied.
“Um...” I said. “Um, could we maybe, um, try it my way, please?” 
My way involved multiple trips back and forth but it was much nicer for both me and the hen. I held the flashlight while my husband huddled inside the hut, grabbing a hen and passing it to me while I slipped the flashlight to him. The hen and I cuddled as we strolled through the moonlight then she was placed ever-so-gently and quietly on a space in the roosts. The six that my husband threw into the coop were milling about the floor so one by one, I picked them up and put them on the roost. When I ran out of room, they were given a perch in a nest box. 
At this point, the only hen making any noise was the usual complainer, a high-strung hen.
“Enough,” I said.
“BWACK!” she replied.
In the daylight, we were able to enjoy the sight of our new flock, a lovely mix of browns and white, blacks and striped.  
“Well, that’s done,” I said to my husband. “We won’t be ordering so many chicks next year.”
“Oh, I’ll probably do the same thing,” he answered. And I hope he means doing it my way. 

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