The photos for this post were taken earlier in the week with the intention of writing about "the trouble with bedtime". And while that is still what I want to cover there has been a sad and unexpected turn of events. Saturday morning, around sunrise, I went to let the chicks out of the coop. One by one everyone filed out except Mary Anne. I climbed up the ladder and opened the door to shoo her out. Instead I found her dead; she was laying in the shavings just below the spot on the roost where I'd placed her the night before. No blood, no bite marks, no obvious cause of death. The only significant thing was her behavior the night before: she'd gone into the coop on her own, alone, and settled into the corner while the rest of her flock did their adorably ridiculous corner crowding in the dirt below. I now realize she probably went off on her own because she wasn't feeling well.
When I found Mary Anne in the coop the night before I was excited because it is rare that any of the chicks move indoors at night. When I found her there I thought "they're finally getting it!!" The rest of the flock was still piled like puppies in their "yard".
In an effort to teach them what they need to be doing, every evening at dusk we go into the coop and move them, one by one, from their hot crowded cuddle to their upstairs roost. Once placed on the roost they quickly fall back to sleep and stay in that exact spot until the next morning. We're not sure why they won't move to the roost on their own. The Ameraucana's have no trouble with the ramp between the yard and coop but the Silkies struggle. Starbuck, Sparrow and Blackbeard have to be encouraged up the ramp (and poor dumb Starbuck frequently sticks her head to the side or spreads her wings out just as she should be ducking into the doorway). Perhaps the problem is they all want to stay together? And the Ameraucanas feel sorry for their chubby friends who aren't so good at climbing the ramp so they all sleep together outside? Doubtful, I know. It is sweet though, the way they wrap their necks around one another and rest their heads on each other's backs. It almost makes me want to leave them in their snuggle. But for safety from predators and (the seemingly far off) winter weather they need to learn to go inside at night. If anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears. Otherwise, I'll let you know when the girls finally figure it out.
For our record keeping/bloggy almanac:
Sorry to lose you little Mary Anne. You were spastic but sweet and smart. As a chick you liked to jump.
Died at 13 weeks. Cause of death unknown, possibly heat stress/stroke or eating a shard of glass.