“Chicken” – Slang: timid or cowardly.
Ever wonder where this expression comes from? You only need to raise a few chicks and it soon becomes quite evident. We’re on our 2nd flock of chicks; the two remaining from our first flock were attacked last week by a baby bobcat. I was worrying about how we were going to successfully integrate the new brood into the coop with the older biddies, but unfortunately, the situation was resolved for us. We got 4 one day old chicks through the mail back in June and have been brooding them, first in the bathroom,
And then when they outgrew that box, we moved them to the garage, where they lived in the spaceship.
Yesterday, at 9 weeks of age, they graduated from flight school and were transferred to their permanent duty station.
When we went through this process 5 years ago with our first brood, we released them into the bottom area first, but then had trouble getting them to figure out how to go upstairs to the roost at night. (There are 2 ladders that you don’t see in this photo that have been temporarily raised). With the first bunch I actually crawled into the coop and pushed them up the ladders one by one. It took 3 nights for them to get the hang of it.
I thought I had a brainstorm this time. But I don’t think like a chicken, thankfully.
“Birdbrain” – Slang: a stupid person; scatterbrain.
I reasoned that if we released them first into the roost area up above, they would see the ladders going down to the daylight and naturally wander down. Then they would understand that the ladders went both up and down. WRONG.
We stuffed them one by one into the little hatches in the ends of the roost area and watched them to see what they would do. It took an age for them to even move one step. Two had been placed on one end and two on the other, and they wouldn’t even move towards each other. Finally after about 10 minutes, they ventured over to the slots in the floor where the ladders lead down. They all lined up around the opening and leaned over as far as they could, hanging on desperately with their toenails, trying to get a peak down below, but no one would attempt the descent.
Confident that they would eventually gather the courage to wander down, we left them for an hour or so to figure it out on their own. Their food and water was down below, so they needed to figure it out soon. When we went back and they still had not gone down, we decided to give them an encouraging nudge. Dear Husband opened the side panels just enough for me to reach a hand in and grab a chicken. I placed her on the top of the stairs and gave her a nudge. She flapped her wings in a desperate attempt to stay atop. I even got her positioned about halfway down the stairs, and she raised her wings up, braced them on either side of the open slot, and used her wings like arms to hoist herself back up into the roost. “Hell no, I won’t go”. I eventually got all four chicks down the ladders, each fighting more vigorously than the last. They each hit the sand and froze. Finally they started to move around a bit. We had lots of chores, so we left them be for a little while. When we came back about 4:00, they were all back up in the loft. Typically too early for even a chicken to go to bed, but at least they had figured out on their own how to climb the stairs to go back up.
This morning I checked on them at 9:00 am. Our previous flock were early risers. As soon as the first rays of sun peaked through, they were up and about. But these “chicken” chickens were still afraid to come downstairs. So once again, I poked them down the hatch as they fought wing and claw to stay in their secure nest area. Once they were all down, I saw them eyeing the ladder and motioning to each other to make a run for it. I quickly pulled the ladders up blocking their escape.
Soon, they discovered where the food dish was and all was right with the world.