Early this morning, when I went out to let the chickens out of the coop and into the fresh, just-hovering-above-freezing morning air, I saw one of these little chicks do the silliest thing.
Ok, so every morning I open the coop house door and the chickens come flooding outside and immediately run-fly to the wooden pallet I use as a feeding platform to gobble up any compost or leftovers I’ve tossed out from the previous night’s supper.
Now that her chicks have hit the awkward, yet increasingly self sufficient stage found between cute fluffy chick and scraggly pullet, Mama Hen has been leaving them behind and practicing the age old adage of “the early bird gets the worms” by rushing outside with the rest of the flock to compete for the best scraps.
Her chicks have caught on to this routine and know that treats are being gobbled without them. They’ve also figured out how to use the tunnel to get in and out of the coop.
The only trouble is that this morning the ground was covered with a thin layer of snow, and the chicks are still decidedly anti-snow and frozen tender toes.
While I stood outside, watching the hens argue over bits of waffles and strawberry greens I heard the chicks hollering at the top of the tunnel and saw them cautiously descend the ramp and peak outside. They immediately noticed the snow covered ground and stood there teetering on the edge of the wood, not daring to touch toe to the cold.
Just then, a small speckled hen named Tailypoe finished laying her egg, hopped down from the nest and descended the ramp to see if there were any leftover snacks outside for her.
The oldest chick, who is very likely a little cockerel, saw Tailypo coming down the ramp towards them. Gathering his nerve, as she passed the trembling clutch of chicks, he leapt into the air and landed squarely on her back.
Tailypo didn’t seem to notice (she was single mindedly heading for food) and continued the 20 feet to the feeding pallet with the brave little cockerel balanced on her spine.
Once she reached the pallet, the little guy jumped off and scrambled up between pecking beaks and scratching feet to chase his own food related dreams, tender toes unscathed and dry.