|Super Swag freaks Photo: Nancy Shobe|
Super Swag freaked.
She couldn't understand how to get into the coop last night after all the other pullets had figured their way in. She walked around the coop confused. She whipped her head back-and-forth like on a pecking frenzy. Then, she curled her toes around the edge of the retaining wall, lifted her head up as far as she could, and flew right into the pear tree.
Lucky for me, my four-year old pear tree is not very tall and my backyard is tiered. I reached into the branches and grabbed her. She emitted a ferocious squawk. I held her close to me, petted her back, and then gently placed her in the coop.
All the other hens had already assumed their nightly roost. Their eyes were shut; they were huddled together. They looked perfectly content.
That was until Super Swag came in.
She bounced over the Buff Orpingtons, smashed into the Silkie, and jostled the Jaerhon from her roost. By morning, I figured, there might be a massacre.
It was their first free-ranging day. And, Super Swag was freaked.
I had decided to let them free-range around 6 p.m., just enough time, I figured, to give them a taste of the free world before needing to get them back in.
When I opened the door to the coop, my two old ladies, Coachie and Diamond, walked out. I swear they grinned at me as they walked right past. The Buff Orpingtons were next, moving out of the coop like the Triple Mint Twins -- every step in unison.
My Silkie and two Polish's were the last to leave. They went to the door frame's edge and looked out. They walked back in. They looked out, again. Then, walked back in. Finally, they took the plunge and jumped outside of the coop. Despite their newfound courage, they huddled together just outside the door for a good 15 minutes before they moved on.
Open a door to the unknown and you'll learn a lot about character.
I sympathize with the Silkies and my Polishes. As a child I was hesitant and timid, the last one to sign on for any new experience. Although I relish my childhood years of "backseat operation"--the years of living in my own dreamed up spaces and observing life from the back of the room--I learned that I missed out on a lot of things. Why? Because when an adventure arose and someone would ask, "Who's coming along?", I wouldn't say "me". And, if you if don't say anything, you'll be passed over. It's as simple as that. Nobody will spend the time to urge you on.
The great American hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you never take."
It wasn't until adulthood that I learned to put the stick in my hand, line up the puck, and take the shots. I began to understand that my deep well of timidness about the unknown could be lived through; I wouldn't die. Passing up the opportunity would actually hurt worse. I'd miss a chance to learn something, live something, or know something about others and myself.
I started to raise my hand and say, "Please include me. I'd like to come."
Today, the pullets are enjoying their second day of free-ranging. They've spent the entire day pecking new yummies in nearly every part of the backyard. Super Swag seems infinitely more comfortable, not so freaked.
It didn't take long for her to shoot past the unknown and land her puck in the comfort zone.
Way to go, Super Swag. You make your owner proud.