Monday, March 9, 2020

Chickens and Bedtime

Chickens wake up at the crack of dawn. Literally, as soon as a teeny, weeny bit of light creeps across the sky, chickens open their eyes.

This is a blessing and a problem for people with roosters.

Roosters, when they wake up, lift up their lovely, red wattled heads and announce to the world that the sun is coming up. "Cock-a-doodle-do!" they shout in English.

Roosters -- well, all chickens -- are very dumb, so they must think that the rest of the world is as well. They shout about the sun coming up over and over. "Cock-a-doodle-do! Cock-a-doodle-do! Cock-a-doodle-do!"

If you live on a farm, and getting up early is helpful, you might not mind this organic, annoying alarm clock. You might welcome it in the same way city folk welcome the loud, clanging of their mechanical alarm clocks.


Does anyone welcome the sound of an alarm that wakes them from a deep and happy sleep? Doesn't matter the alarm, does it? We all dread it.

Sidebar: This is something retired people look forward to: no alarm clocks any day f the week. Unless we fill up our schedules with volunteer commitments and grandparenting obligations, we get to sleep in. I recommend this. End sidebar.

So roosters and hens awake with the first tiny glimmering of the sun. Roosters crow about it, which is why most cities, if they allow people to keep chickens, don't allow them to keep roosters. Can you imagine the racket if every other home had a rooster crowing at the sun every day?

Hens don't crow. Probably they blink their eyes, stretch out their wings, turn to each other to start gossiping and planning their exciting day of eating.

On the other end of the day, chickens put them selves to bed.

No kidding!

They are very dumb creatures in so many ways, but this is one great thing about chickens: at dusk they head for their roosting spots. By dark they are safe in their chicken house, nestled up against each other, falling asleep.

One time, my sister watched our house and chickens when we went on vacation. After the first day, she called us in a terrible panic. "I've been chasing the chickens to get them to bed, but I can't get them into the henhouse! They're all gonna get eaten by coyotes! I'm exhausted! What should I do?!?!"

We said, "Oh, dear. Take a deep breath. Make yourself a cup of tea. Wait. Wait a half-hour or so. When you go outside, you'll find that the chickens have put themselves away for the night."

She was very offended that we hadn't told her this vital, and surprising piece of information about chickens. She was right, but we are so used to this wonderful chicken blessing, that we hadn't thought about it.

I sometimes wonder if people would be as enchanted by chickens if they had to round them up every night and carry them to the roosts.

So besides giving eggs so generously, this is a great reason to have chickens: they put themselves to bed at night without any complaining or whining or requests for bedtime stories.

Did you know this about chickens? It's a great reason to get some, don't you think? Go tell you parents, siblings, city council.

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