The problem: how to move the chicks from their cage in the conservatory to their run outside.
The solution: Not as straightforward as you may think.
In the late afternoon it was the reverse procedure: put food in their cage, open doors and whoosh – the little gannets would be in like a shot.
However, it’s not easy to negociate a cage full of chicks up and down steps and after I twisted my knee and both Jay and CC declared that they were fed up with carting chickens about and walking in chicken poo left by the hens, I had to come up with a means of doing it by myself.
I tried a cardboard box but the ones already in made a bid for freedom when I tried to add another one. While looking for a taller box in the garage I spotted the cat baskets and chose the plastic one with a heavy lid.
I managed to get four of them in by ‘baiting’ it with catfood and they were not averse to going into their run. Quite a lot of catfood later, all eight were happily playing outside in the run.
Then, not long after lunch, the sky turned grey and the wind got up so I thought they ought to come indoors. Now I’m too big and far from sufficiently agile to get into their run and physically put them into the cat basket, so I put some food in it, folded back the roof of the run and lowered the basket.
They made a rush for the food but were suspicious of the funny angle at which the box was tilted. (It is a bit too high for them to jump into easily so I tipped it forward, holding onto the lid). After waiting in vain for four of them to get inside long enough for me to close the lid, I attempted to ‘catch’ two of them and amid squawks of protest I carried the first two back to their cage.
Once in the conservatory I opened the basket and both of them jumped out, going in opposite directions round the conservatory. My first thought was to shut the doors and then it wasn’t too difficult to capture them. It was very lucky the the only cat present, namely Chloe, didn’t decide to help me chase them.
After that I decided that I’d bring them back one at a time. The others were wary of the basket by now and kept their distance so I put in an upturned box with food on top. I can’t reach the ground by leaning down so that’s the only way I could get hold of them. Then each noisy little bundle was carried back to be reunited with it’s brothers and sisters.
It took a while but I managed another three using this method. The final three were not going to come anywhere near the upturned box. They all gathered at the other end of the cage making rather distressed noises. The sky was getting blacker. Rain was imminent.
I put more food in a dish and opened the door at the other end of the cage. As they approached I managed to grab one and that left two. After a bit of gentle persuasion I caught another but the little chick left all alone was obviously most upset until I came back for it.
Whew! I didn’t actually time the exercise but it seemed to take forever. They are growing quickly. I just hope they’ll soon be old enough to live outside in their new henhouse.