Penning the Peeps
It’s hot here. According to husband who grew up there – it’s “Florida in the summer hot”. Much too hot to leave the peeps closed up in Fort Peepage.
Since they’re still small enough to be cat bait they need to be penned for their own safety and I’ve been transferring them from coop to pen by hand. Three of them (Clover and friends) are so tame they just hop on my arm for the ride over, peeping in cheerful anticipation of the bugs and forage to come. Most of the rest are gentle and easy to catch. I scoop up a couple at at time, tuck them under one arm and carry them over. The last two are convinced I’m going to kill them – and, if they continue to be as flighty and annoying as they’ve been this week – they may just be right.
I slept late today so it was already hot by the time I got around to moving them out to the pen. I was tired and crabby, and after a few failed attempts to catch those who will be eaten first, I decided a new plan of attack was required. And as I stood there, pondering the fate of my fractious fowl, the coop door fell open. The peeps perked up and moved toward it.
I stepped back and they moved closer to the door. I decided that if I was going to risk losing any of my pullets – these were the obvious choice. So I stepped out and held the coop door wide open. The peeps scrambled out the door and made a beeline for the pen.
Because I had, of course (slaps forehead and rolls eyes), set the pen up so that it faced away from the coop door, they ran straight into the wire. And stayed there, peeping in pointless panic. Seeing that any efforts to grab the little bastards birds would just result in a wild peep chase and having had some small experience in herding sheep, I decided that Audie and I were going to have to try our luck at penning.
When penning sheep at a trial, the handler’s job is to hold the gate rope until the dog works the sheep into the pen. Since my experience in penning consists entirely of either watching other people do it or in moving tame, dog-broke sheep with Zip the Kelpie I decided that gracefully flanking Audie around the pen while I stood back and held the gate was completely out of our league out of the question. However; being an experienced outside the box thinker and having a biddable, well-trained dog, I had an idea.
Audie and I switched roles. I flanked quietly around the pen while Audie stood at the gate. I put enough pressure on the peeps to move them around the pen, but not so much that they were tempted to flee away into the yard. Audie stood by the gate, yielding enough space back and away from it to encourage the pullets to hop in as they circled around. Lacking opposable thumbs, Audie then stepped in to block the opening until I could close the gate.
It worked like a charm. With the peeps safely ensconced in their pen Audie and I can relax and enjoy a break in the shade. Hand feeding the birds while we listen to the creek.