Friday at least one of the pullets had a little adventure…
I arrived for morning chicken chores to find that the hens had excavated all the straw and too much of the dirt out from under the door of the Big Chickenhouse. There was a pretty good gap under the door that hadn’t been there before. Also, one of the Leghorn pullets was running around outside, cheeping piteously and trying to teleport through the yard fence to get back to her flock. There actually were a couple of ways a highly motivated pullet might have squeezed through the fence, but the gap under the door seemed the best explanation.
Of course she wouldn’t let me catch her. And of course when I tried to chase her into the open door she just ran past it. If I were able to open one of the gates in the yard fence that would have worked but they’re securely wired shut all around their bottoms and sides. I went home and made a leg-catcher out of a bent clothes hanger, but the pullet was far quicker than me and I couldn’t get close enough.
I looked up Landlady with a plan: If she could stand beside the door with a net I have lying around, I could chase the pullet toward her and she could deflect it through the door. That might have worked. We went together to the chickenhouse, and the pullet was gone. Couldn’t find her anywhere. I assumed a hawk had gotten her during my absence: She was certainly sounding and acting like exactly what she was, a young lost distressed prey animal. Oh, well. I went about the rest of my day.
Came the afternoon, and afternoon chicken chores. There was a pullet running around outdoors, and on quick inspection I could only see eight or nine pullets indoors. Oh, shit.
I looked around, and there was only the one little white pullet, piteously cheeping to get into the yard but of course neatly evading my every effort to assist. And then here came Landlady and Dharma. Almost as if she had been trained for that very purpose, Dharma herded the pullet virtually into Landlady’s hands. Landlady calmed the now wildly squawking pullet, we carried her inside where a more careful count showed that this was the original pullet and we had in fact not lost a single bird. I don’t know where that one got off to when we came in the morning to rescue her, but she came back from it unharmed.
To keep it from happening again, we did what I should have done that morning – we piled a bunch of rocks against the door’s threshold.
Yesterday while at the food/hardware store, I paid an inflated price for a sack of concrete. And then I fixed the door this morning before that south-facing wall got too hot.
Five years ago when we converted Gitmo into a big chickenhouse and yard, we assumed that predators would try to dig under the door and/or fence. So Landlady and Ian dug shallow trenches and poured them full of concrete. For keeping predators out, that worked perfectly. I saw plenty of sign at first where they tried to scratch their way in, but then they just gave up.
But that cheap interior door has warped considerably since then: Predators can’t get in, but if the bedding is scraped away just right small chickens could get out.
Now they can’t. I mixed the concrete stiff, spread a layer under the door to discourage digging, then built up a ridge outside the door that no chicken could ever wiggle past. That should solve the issue until next time, when they dig under a wall or something.