Tiffany, who was now over a week old, was feeling adventurous today. For her first days she’d been squished between hens to keep her warm, but for the last two days she’d been in the nice warm broody coop. She’d still stuck close by Courtney, her mother, fearing that someone would come and haul her someplace else.
Today was a new day, and her little legs cried out for some exercise. The floor was covered in wood shavings, which were interesting to walk on. A lot easier than the straw in the regular coop, truth be told. A lot of those pieces of straw were as big as she was, and she couldn’t climb over them easily, but her mom had helped her when she’d needed to go to the edge of the nest to do…necessary things.
Something in Tiffany told her that her legs were meant for running, so she ran from one end of the coop to the other, and then around the entire inside of the coop. She ran up to her mother, tagged Courtney’s foot with her tiny beak and then ran to the other end of the coop, laughing. She did that a few more times and then she had an idea for something else to do with those legs.
More specifically, something to do with her feet. She stood firmly on one foot and used the other one to scratch at the wood shavings. After a few tries where she fell over she mastered the basic skill. She could kick shavings out behind her with one foot, change legs and then do the same with the other. She did that so many times in the same spot that she found her claws scratching the hard wood floor. That made a nasty sound, so she moved to another spot.
As she moved around the coop, alternately running and scratching, Tiffany had another idea. She’d noticed that there were odd branched pieces of wood placed around the coop and her little brain said it might be fun to hop up onto a branch. It was hard to do – she had short little legs and the branch was at least an inch off the ground. The first time she missed she landed on her butt. The second time she leaned forward so she wouldn’t fall backwards and landed on her face and got a beakful of shavings. Next she tried a running start and almost made it up onto the branch, but she knew she was on the right track and tried it again. Success! She was on the branch, looking down at where she’d just been standing. Oh, how high up she was, she thought.
Courtney sat over on the side of the coop and watched Tiffany with delight. She remembered some of her own early explorations of what her little poult body could do. She’d had the advantage of being surrounded by other poults, including some that were a bit older. They’d shown her how to get up on the branches, which was very helpful. They’d also made fun of her and the other younger poults when they fell or did something that wasn’t too bright. That wasn’t helpful or kind. She wished that little Tiffany had others to play with, but since Tiffany didn’t know that poults were usually raised as part of a brood, she didn’t know what she was missing. That was probably for the best, since there wasn’t likely to be any other poults hatched at the farm.
As Tiffany sat on the lowest branch, she called out to her mother, “Look, look, look at what I did! I got up on this branch all by myself. I’m a big poult now, aren’t I, Mama?” Courtney walked over to her, and leaned down to preen the fuzz on her head.
“Yes, you are getting to be a big poult. Someday soon you’ll be a jenny hen and will go out and join the other hens. You’re my good girl.” Oh, motherhood was a wonderful thing, Courtney decided.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/cowgirljules/4610336194