The Shrug Off

Thunderstorms, while scary, are apparently survivable by suburban chicks.  The last few days have been blustery, with periods of plain old thunderstorm-y rain.  The first night of storms, I worried that the little gals would be ok.  You may know that I don’t hustle in the morning, under almost every circumstance (except those involving mortal personal and/or familial peril), so it may not be a surprise that I didn’t get up to go check on the girls any earlier than I ever do.  I do claim some credit for THINKING about going out to check on them, though, especially when awoken at 2 am-ish by the hard rain and thunder.  That morning they were fine.  Shell-shocked, but fine.  They wandered around the coop with the hesitant step of disaster survivors world-wide, much like the footage of Katrina, the tsunamis of the Pacific, or the tornado of Greensburg (STILL home of the world’s largest hand-dug well, even without the water tower proclaiming that accomplishment).

If we knew they’d reached teenage-hood-dom a few weeks ago when their feet got huge overnight, we got even more confirmation when Angie went out today to sit with them.  “They still love to eat out of my hand, and Barcelona (or Juevo, actually) puts her foot on my hand to steady it”, she said.  But when she tries to pick them up, they balk.  They like the hand-held food, they like when we sit and talk with them, but they don’t want Angie to pick them up and coo and cuddle them.  It’s just too intimate; see most teenagers in your life.  Our teenagers love (secretly, sometimes) the attention we show when we talk about friends, life, school plays, college plans, job prospects (ok, this one not so much).  They usually have a pretty low tolerance for actual physical displays of affection.  Our five teenage chickens are in much the same ‘space’ right now; it’s just awkward for them to stop what they are doing to receive hands-on love from Angie.

So, Ang got the “shrug-off”.  In humans, it’s one shoulder up and down rapidly, a tensing of the core muscles signaling discomfort (remember the picture of the German Chancellor – Angela Merkel? – tensing when GW Bush gave her two-second shoulder massage?), and a turning away of the face and eyes, indicating a wish to be somewhere else (Adam Sandler’s “happy place”).  In our little pullets (which only means ‘female chickens that haven’t laid eggs yet’), they got a little agitato (for you music people out there), a little scratch-y, and more verbal (in a bad way).  Not nearly as bad as when we tried to put the chickerchiefs on, but a clear set of nonverbals that said, “get the heck away from me”.  We ARE pleased that they don’t use serious cuss words yet.  We’ve tried to shelter them from the rougher edges of society – we aren’t sure if it is safe to tell them about different kinds of poultry yet, let alone other types of farm animals altogether.

Our dog, Kenzie, really wishes he could herd them around the yard!  Our idea is that once they get almost full grown, we will leave the coop gate open and let them scratch around the yard.  Now that they’ve lived there for almost a month, we hope they call those roosts in the coop home base, and when they think of a haven, they run back to the coop first.  Even chickens need a happy place, right?