Chickens are so well-behaved. They never try to stay up late, run around, party into the wee hours. They head for their roosts at the first sign of sinking light.
Quite a few of them won’t roost in the chicken house, though. They roost in the open air, on the goat pen gates. They like to look at the stars and dream under the moon.
And sometimes they have big kafluffles as they jostle each other working to get their favorite spot on the gates. The other animals often sleep in the goat pen, too, which keeps the chickens safe. Pocahontas is on guard. When it starts getting colder, we’re going to put up roosts inside the goat house so the chickens can go in there. I don’t think they’ll want to roost outside when it’s 10 degrees, and the other animals will want to be in the goat house, too. But for now, I take advantage of the outdoor roosting. I like to stop by and pet them after they get up on the gates. Chickens do not like to be petted. The hens cluck at me in their annoyance, but they don’t fly off. Once tucked in bed, they don’t want to move. Chickens are so soft. They feel like silk.
I don’t try to pet Mean Rooster. He always roosts on the far goat pen gate and I don’t go over there. I DON’T HAVE A DEATH WISH.
More chickens gather in the chicken house as night falls. Some of them come early to pick out their spot and avoid the crowds.
Others trickle in, staying out to peck that one last bug before bedtime.
I hear the ducks in the woods, quacking. They waddle through the trees and brush, drawn by the light in the chicken house. They stop for a last drink of water in the drainage ditch behind the house where the springs in the hillside feed down. They wander over to the goat pen gates and think about making a nest underneath. They would blithely sleep out in the open under the gates if I let them.
Pocahontas comes to visit me at the goat yard gate.
I say, “Hello, Poky,” and let her nuzzle on me for a few minutes. She loves to nuzzle. I love to call her Poky, except when Mean Rooster is after me. Then I call her by her full name, which is POCAHONTAS GET OVER HERE.
I check on the other animals. They don’t come running over. They know I don’t bring cookies at night. Clover says, “Good night, Woman,” acknowledging me just enough to show she has tolerated me for another day.
Then I chastise the ducks and wave my flashlight toward the chicken house.
They follow my light, quacking their protest at their nightly confinement with chickens.
They tumble through the door from the chicken yard to the house and find their corners under the roosts.
Sleepy hens prepare to slip their beaks under their wings.
I shut the door and lock them in safe and tight.
It’s night on the farm.