Or, How I've Come to Serve, Rather than be Served, by My Peeps
24 April 2011
The peeps have been in their coop for a week now. After the Great Avian Revolt two weeks ago, the message was loud and clear-- give us our coop or we'll send you to sleep with the worms! What puzzles me, though, is that they have never even seen a worm. Either way, I didn't take their spirited peeping lightly. I had to finish the coop-- at least enough to allow them to safely live in it while the finer details were completed. There was a peace about the kingdom almost right away when I put them in the coop but that was short-lived. Why? I'll tell you why. You give these birds an inch and they take a foot!
I thought I'd be a good Peep-daddy if, while working in the garden trying very hard to bend the Colorado dirt to my will, I took the peeps outside with me. When I opened the coop door, there was Sybil with her in-your-face bobbing and weaving and peeping. She was anxious and excited and thankfully for the flock mentality, Helen and Edith were quick to follow. I scooped them up and put them back into their old brooder-- Ole Blue-- and amazingly, they calmed down immediately. And off we went-- the peeps safely and demurely inside the box being carried at my expense out to the garden. I had a vision during the short walk that this seems to be a role reversal or sorts… me carrying the peeps. It didn’t seem right but with stink-eye from Sybil, I focused and got my rear in gear-- Sybil had things to do!
When I released the orpingtons onto the dirt of the garden, they were wary at first. It occurred to me that this is likely the first time they've seen the sky, the trees and all that makes up the immensity that is the World around us. But in typical chicken fashion, it didn't take much-- a wayward piece of straw, to catch the peep's attention. They went from scared and intimidated peeps to, "Oh! Look! A piece of straw!" A pick-up game of chicken football ensued. Before long, all three of the peeps were about the garden and completely unaware that the vastness of Space still remained. How liberating it must be to move on from such a huge, scary thing-- and onto something as simple as a piece of straw!
Sybil amazes me. She is so forward, curious and spirited in everything she does. Once the straw situation was dealt with, she turned her attention to more pressing issues-- bathing. How amazing it is to me that these things are engrained in the bird's knowledge of the world that something as obscure as a dust bath would be seemingly automated in the hardwiring of the peep. They've never seen it done before and yet without prompting, Sybil nestled into a pile of dust and dirt and went to town-- kicking it up and over and under every nook and cranny and she looked positively blissful. Her little chicken eyes rolled around as if biting into a well-cooked steak, or brownies fresh from the oven-- the pleasure was complete. I'm sure if she could, she would have giggled delightfully at how great her bath was going. The other two, Helen and Edith, watched with curiosity but without much prompting, got into the dust bath, too.
But here is where the issues began. Just like with the brooder, once I began taking them out, they experienced a bit more of freedom and they couldn't readily put that idea out of their tiny brains. They wanted more. And because it was a rather cool and unsettled weather pattern this past week, I didn't have much of an option than to keep them in their coop all week. I also want them to learn that the coop is now home, too. Having read several places that they should be locked down, for lack of a better term, in their new home for a week or so, I thought I was doing them a favor. But now, every time I open the coop, Sybil leads the charge! With three orpington peeps storming me every time I open the coop, I'm running out of time and really need to get the rest of the coop completed. They may take a foot for every inch I give them, but if there is one thing these peeps are teaching me is, they'll lead the way. I'm amazed at how apt they are at not only exploring and learning their world, but teaching me about their world as well.
I hear you loud and clear, Sybil! I'll get your run done tomorrow.
Sybil is in the front-- of course. How can I tell? She's darker than the other two and slightly larger. She also has absolutely no reservations about getting in my face, where the other two shyly stay in the background.