First, two facts:
1. Harriet, my little red hen, is at the bottom of the pecking order.
2. I gather that standing up tall and flapping your wings is how you say “I am the boss,” if you are a chicken. (If you do this while Ethel is around, she will run over and peck you.)
On Saturday morning, I had shooed the other three chickens out of the coop and down into the run. Harriet was the last hold-out. I stepped back to let her settle down from the impending Broom Panic.
I watched as she looked around the coop carefully. She cocked her head this way and that, making triple-sure that she was the only chicken in the coop.
Then she stood up tall and flapped her wings.
That’s right, Harriet! When there are no other chickens around, you are the boss.
Speaking of the shooing. Infuratingly, they have always been happy to go UP the ramp. In fact I have to close the hatch during the day, or they’ll go up there, and get “stuck.”
I built them a floating platform, about 18 inches below the hatch. They drop onto that, and from there they can either flap down to the ground or hop over to the perch, then jump to the ground. I no longer have to physically pick them up and drop them through the hatch. But I do still have to shoo them out with the broom every morning.
As the sun begins to set, they huddle together on the floating platform. From there, they give me Significant Looks until I finally relent and open the hatch so that they can go back to the coop.