|The Littles hang out while I tidy up the coop.|
I decided it was time for a chicken break, and headed outside. The big hens came clucking to the gate, and I talked to them and stepped through my feathered welcoming committee to check their water and feed. First they reminded me that they needed some scratch grains. I stepped into the building where we keep the bins of feed, and as usual, Mabel and Violet followed me in, impatiently supervising, then hurried back out when I started tossing grain into the chicken yard.
With the hens occupied, I stepped into the coop for their waterers. The Littles, roosting, watched me with interest. It's always relaxing to visit with them.
We have two PVC pipe feeders. These clever feeders are made with large PVC pipe, set on end. One end is open at the top for filling, and there's a Y-pipe attached at the other end, so that gravity drops the feed into the angled opening at the end for the hens to help themselves. They waste much less food this way, and it means fewer trips to fill feeders. It had been a while since I topped them off, so I went back to the feed bin, filled a bucket, and carried it to the PVC pipe.
I was feeling relaxed, and talking to Pip and Lotte, who were watching me fill the pipe. As the feeder filled and the bucket emptied, the top of the feed neared the top of the pipe. I leaned forward to peer in, my nose just a few inches from the top of the pipe so that I could check the level. And suddenly there were three small mice peering at me from the feeder. They'd ridden the feed to the top like an elevator, and we were eye-to-eye.
Startled, I screamed indelicately, stepped backwards, knocked the newly filled waterer to the ground, and ran in place for an agitated moment shaking my arms, grimacing, and shuddering and sending hens scattering. If any of my neighbors would have seen me, I think they might have called 9-1-1 out of concern that I was having an attack of some sort.
I hurried from the run. "Ah!" I said to Mabel and Violet. "Ah! Ah! Ah!" I shuddered some more.
"All right, you little velociraptor, meat-eating T-Rex relatives," I said to them. "Go in there and get those mice!" They regarded me with interest to see if, when I flung my arms around hysterically, I'd tossed any food to the ground. Noting that I had not, they wandered off muttering and scratching, ignoring me.
I stood for a moment, and looked back, where now just one dusty mouse stood blinking at me. I shuddered again, then put the bucket away, and left the chickens and mice to work things out.
My muse was now wide awake, and my alertness sufficiently jump started. I sat back down in front of the computer and got back to work in my relatively quiet and surprise-free office. There have been times I've wished we had a video camera in the coop because of how entertaining my chickens are. However, perhaps it's good that no one saw that display of rodent-phobia. Note to self: add a screen to the top of pipe feeders, and have K check first to make sure they are mouse-less.