Finally! Lyson came over just as it was getting dark. He brought the feeder and waterer and his assistant brought three bags of shavings. He impressed me by shimmying inside the coop and spreading out the shavings to a depth of four inches exactly. It must be fluffed regularly, he reminded me.
The chickens were in that box in the bottom left of this photograph. We were so close to getting them!
He tied up the full feeder right in the middle of the coop. I didn’t want to point out that when the chickens roosted they would poop right into it.
Then, he had a few more instructions before he would release the chickens to us. First, we must never let them out of the coop. Second, we must always use shavings and never use straw (we had left the straw we had taken out next to the coop). Third, we must take out the roosting bar (oh, that’s why he tied it in the middle). Fourth, we must remodel the chicken coop by extending wire over the wooden door egg-hatch.
Yes, of course, I said, we’ll call the carpenter next week. (Just give us the chickens!) He must have deemed us suitable parents because he turned, opened the chicken box, grabbed them by their feet and threw them in the coop. As you can imagine the squawks and screeches exceeded suburban neighborhood noise R&Rs (rules and regulations). Fortunately, we lived in the country, in Africa, where not only were R&Rs suggestions (polite ones at that), but so were traffic lights, stop signs and traffic lanes. For a guy who vetted us more carefully than McCain vetted Sarah Palin, we were surprised he treated the poor hens so roughly.
The ferocious Boerboel (South African Mastiff) puppy Coco freaked out when she saw the flying shrieking balls of feathers and bolted toward the fence. She didn’t see that it was chicken wire and sling-shotted back to us. Then she tried going through the fence on the other side and bounced back again. By this time she was in a panic and had expressed her anal glands (I’m totally serious here, you could really smell it). I ran to the gate and called her and she darted through it, high-tailed it for the house. I found her half an hour later pressed up against the back door, her little stub of a docked tail wagging in double-time.
Fortunately I didn’t sign anything because as soon as Lyson left we moved the feeder to the corner so they could use the roosting bar and declared the coop complete and finished — no more renovations. The next morning we promptly let them out of the coop and there were seven, not six! Lyson had given us a bonus chicken.
Now convinced that Lyson was a card-holding member of the CPS (Chicken Protective Services) I told the guards that if he ever came around again they were not to open the gate, but tell him that unfortunately we weren’t home but that we really appreciated all of his help.
The chickens have laid four eggs already today. Notice how much they’re enjoying the forbidden straw; they’ve already made a nest in it.
They also are the calmest, most curious chickens I’ve ever had (the village chickens are skittish and high strung). In the photo with Buddy above they went up to him to check him out. In this photo the hen let me look under her to see how many eggs were there with nary a protest.
These chickens may not know it but they’ve won the chicken lottery. They’ve already enjoyed a lunch of lettuce and spaghetti table scraps.