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Chickens Coming Home to Roost
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Jim's comment about following the cows home at the end of the day reminded me about the descriptive "chickens coming home to roost."

In high school it was my job to feed the horse, the sheep, the goats, the dog, and the cats. I was probably feeding mice, too, but let's not go there.

One summer my mother got the bright idea of getting laying hens, so we could have fresh eggs for next to nothing. In the summer they could roam freely, reducing the insect population and munching on the occasional blade of grass. The only expense would be extra feed in winter, filched from the generous portions allocated to the animals-in-fur.

Winter feeding chores were something of an adventure. I'd get the buckets of feed from the upper section of the barn, then go around the outside and down the hill to the horse stall and chicken coop and dole it out. In winter the snow would melt partially during the day and then re-freeze at night, forming a hard brittle crust.

If the crust supported my weight, I would step gingerly along on top, trying not to break through into thigh-deep snow, carrying a bucket in each hand, balancing carefully.

One memorable day my mother let the dog, a 90-lb German Shepherd, out just as I started my tiptoe across the snow field. The dog thought this seemed like great fun and came blasting up behind me, hitting me just behind the knees. Down I went, face first into the cold crackly ice and snow, buckets of feed scattered hither and yon.

I went down to the coop, shooed the chickens out. They were reluctant at first but soon found the corn and wheat and oat bits and set to work industriously pecking each grain from the snow, clucking contentedly to themselves and each other.

There was no problem that night. At night chickens go home to roost wherever they have become accustomed to roosting. No herding necessary. As the saying goes, the chickens come home to roost, no matter where in the yard they have strayed. The trick is to confine them to their coop for the first few days after you get them, so that their little bird brains identify the coop as home. After that, you can let them wander. They will always go home at sunset.

After all is said and done in your life, your chickens will always come home to roost.

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