We went through a big transition around here before the snow came. The pullets (young hens) have started laying just a little bit, and they have moved into the big hen coop.
Transitioning them to the new coop was more fun this year than it ever has been. For reasons that we can’t understand, this flock of birds love to follow my five-year-old boy when he rides his pedal tractor around the property. This group has enjoyed free run of our yard since July, so they’ve had plenty of opportunities to follow them around.
Actually, they love any of his large plastic vehicles, no matter who is driving them. When I was picking up around the place and I pushed one of his big plastic cars across the yard to put it away for the winter, I turned around and saw a crowd of hens hurrying after me. They were running from all corners of the yard to join us in our little procession across the yard. My husband wonders if they look at the vehicles as rumbling mother figures. I have no clue.
We have enjoyed this quirk tremendously, and this week it proved practical as well. These hens were going to move out of the coops of their youth, which are located behind the garage. They were going to step into their full adult role by moving into the laying barn. Usually, we wait until our birds go to sleep at night, then move them in a trailer to the new coop. This week, many of them walked there by themselves. My son got on his pedal tractor, and the rest of us stood back has he took off, knees pumping, and a large group of hens fell in behind him.
He led those hens all the way around the shelter belt and up into the yard of their new coop. Then we shut the door, and there they were. He didn’t lead all of the chickens there of course, but there weren’t as many waiting that night for us to move in the trailer.
I was worried that our birds might feel a bit betrayed by their beloved pedal tractor. In the afternoon, they did look a bit bewildered, lined up at the fence and looking longingly at their old coops and the rest of their flock exploring the yard. Then darkness fell, though, and they seemed content in their spacious, well-lit coop. They were browsing for food and clucking as contentedly as anyone could wish.
It’s like that flock of birds is all grown up now. It’s fitting that the occasion was marked with a real chicken parade.