It is a game we play. Since I fitted out the old shed with a new floor (while the shed was being moved the old floor disintegrated only a few feet away from the shed’s new position) and new nest boxes and a new perch, I have had to play nightly games with the chickens. When it is dark enough I close the hatch and then physically lift the hens onto their perch. I worry that that the perch is too high but I console myself that it is only one foot off the floor and far from the two foot maximum. They simply need to learn something new.

It will take some time, but I need to place them all on their perch every night until they realise what they need to do. Some of the younger hens are a little more clueless and they hop down to the floor when I leave. Last night the lovely Sharon spotted one of these clueless birds and attempted to put her back on the perch. She came in from her nightly walk around the cottage and had an exasperated expression while she began to ask me, “see when one of them is not on its perch…” I interrupted her with a question dripping with inferred knowledge, “How many were down before you started try to fix the problem”. Having grown up with pet birds I would have thought she would be wiser to avian habits. Her head torch on full beam prompted them to all happily wake up and begin feeding instead of sleeping. I informed her of this as if I had years of knowledge. The reality was that I had learnt the hard way over several nights of what seemed like a comical sort of herding of cats. I will not reveal the truth to her of course. I am a teacher, and my art is that of bluff and overconfidence.

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