My new tractor is a masterpiece -- a master piece of scrap. It was built from leftover 3/4" PVC pipe, salvaged chicken wire, leftover bird netting, and baling twine.
I started this project thinking it would take a day or two. Now, a week later, I have managed to string together enough spare time sessions to get the tractor secure enough to test.
The weather was threatening a gully-washer and I still had not finished the tractor. So I made an executive decision to tie off a couple spots and just test it out.
I dragged the tractor to the pasture. (Why did I not build it there?????) I carefully propped it up on two supports. I opened the chicken pen and waited for the rush.
The chickens rushed all right. Straight to the back of the coop. They nervously peeked around the corner and gave me the stink eye.
No worries. I waded in with my hazing poles and cajoled, harassed, threatened, and pushed the chickens out of the pen and into the spot directly outside the gate. Surely they would cooperate now.
They scratched in the leaves, clucked happily, gobbled invisible bits of deliciousness, and then headed back into the pen.
Once more I cajoled, harassed, threatened, and pushed the chickens out of the pen. This time I kept pushing until they got the hint. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm took them into the house yard instead of the pasture.
I hazed them out of the yard and into the pasture. They stood next to the open side of the tractor and gave me the stink eye. Once more I cajoled, harassed, threatened, and pushed the chickens. Finally they went inside and I set the tractor on the ground.
Oh the chickeny joy!
They scratched and clucked and grazed and pecked and ate invisible bits of deliciousness. In ten minutes four chickens ate the best things from eighty square feet of pasture. Then they stopped for a drink.
As soon as they finished drinking I propped the tractor bottom up on the supports again and hazed the chickens out into the pasture.
Maybe my chickens forgot where the pen was located during their long incarceration. Maybe the delicious greenery sprouting all over the pasture was too tempting. Maybe they were clever and pretended to be stupid so they could graze more.
It was a challenge to get the chickens into the pen. First they wanted to graze their old pasture. Then they wanted to wander in their old thicket. Then they tried to get into the pen by standing next to the gate and freaking out. One hen tried to find the gate by running around the entire pen perimeter, except for the section by the gate. Three times. Even Mr. Big got frustrated with her.
Embarrassed by their foolish antics, Mr. Big directed the flock into the coop for the night and I gratefully closed the pop door behind them.
Now all I have to do is finish building the tractor.