These are the ongoing lessons this mama hen wants her chicks to know before they leave the nest.
When I was younger, I read the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I remember reading about Wiesel’s horrific living conditions in the German concentration camp and his having to sleep in the snow during a mandatory multi-day march from the camp. Ever since that world-view changing book, I have never gone to sleep without being grateful that I have a warm, safe place where I can rest. Protection during sleep is so vitally important to our physical and mental health. Chickens intuitively know that this is important. When it starts getting dark, the flock heads into the coop and takes to the roosts.
Roosts are raised bars upon which the flock members can perch and sleep. It keeps them above the predators that may prowl the ground at night.
If a chicken does not have access to a roosting bar in a coop, it will try to sleep in low hanging tree branch, on a roof-top, or even on a fence, it will do whatever it can rest protected – because a chicken sleeping on the ground is a chicken that is not safe.
One night, after all of the chickens had gone into the coop, we locked the outer door as we always do to keep the flock protected from the nighttime dangers lurking in our woods. We hadn’t realized that one of our newer and smaller bantam chickens; Sinna had not gone into the coop but instead had found her way to the back corner of an overhang and had decided to hide there, thinking that the dark corner meant safety. For whatever reason (fear, confusion, thought she had a better idea) Sinna overrode her instinct to join the flock and roost.
The only reason we even knew about this was when we opened the coop the next morning and saw the piles and piles of black feathers all over the ground. Something had gotten Sinna and it had gotten her good. She had most definitely not been safe during the night.
Don’t let yourself become vulnerable. Sleep in a safe and warm place where you will not be attacked. Stay with others in your flock, there is always strength in numbers. Figure out your safest option – for now if you have to sleep in a tree, at least it’s better than being on the ground, but eventually make your way to a protected sleeping area and when you do –
Be sure to say a little prayer of gratitude for your safety each night before you fall asleep.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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