It’s not unusual at night when I go out to close up the hen house, that White Hen is sitting under the coop. She’s in that sleep state that chickens go into at night, so she’s easy to pick up and put inside.
Last night I watched as she stood outside the coop, eyeing the roost before jumping onto it and going inside. It took her a while, longer than Kitty and Anne, to make the leap. And there was something tentative about the way she did it.
Both these things got me thinking that maybe White Hen, who is eight or nine years old, is having a hard time jumping onto the roost.
This morning, Kitty and Anne were already under the bird feeder pecking around, but White Hen was still in the coop when I got done feeding the sheep and donkeys.
So I got an old board from inside the barn and placed it by the door of the coop.
Within moments, White Hen hopped through the door onto the roost, then gingerly made the way down the edge of the board to the ground.
White hen has never walked down a board in this way, yet she knew exactly what to do.
This weekend, I’ll get another board, a little more narrow and a little longer so it fits just under the roost. I’ll screw small slats (similar to the ones on the New Gulley Bridge) like little steps for the hens to grip for easy climbing and descending.
I meant to go out tonight and see if the hens used the board to get into the coop, but I got busy and now it’s dark and they’re long inside. But I’ll watch them in the morning to see if they use the board as it is.
I think I may make it so that I can remove the board at night. We’ve never had anyone get into the coop and go after the hens. I’ve heard plenty of stories from neighbors of weasels and fishers doing just that. Even though we have a wooden turn button on the door, I certainly don’t want to make it anymore inviting for predators.