A Lesson from Roo - chicken relationships and psychological workings

Hmm, can anyone tell me what breed these are??

Yesterday in the coop I spent a couple of hours making a new larger pen for the chicks. I changed  the hens shallow water dish (filled with rocks to keep the chicks from drowning  but she kept filling it with straw in all her scratching around- so I was cleaning it 3x a day (plus their little special chick waterer)so I'm using a dog dish with rocks now - it has higher sides. 

the water dish...iew!
And boy it's FUNNY as heck to see that little yellow chick scratching around with those little quick feet- just as he was taught to do. (That just made me laugh out loud - the image coming to mind...hubby working behind me had to know what was so funny). Little chicks! 

Anyway I also raised her feed dish (which used to be a wild bird feeder, the one that the bear cub licked years ago). 
It hangs from a chain now about 4-6" above the straw, depending on how much the hen moves that straw around into hills and valleys all the time. I promise this IS relevant...

During the time I was out there, I witnessed both funny and puzzling things.
(Can someone tell me if my rooster is weird? lol)

First, I went out there and saw 2 chicks laying on top of the hen, who was also laying down. They were there long enough for me to run back in for my camera and back out for a few shots before mamma dumped them off by getting up. It was like a slide at the park!

(see all that straw on her back from the feeder dish? LOL)

Two chicks (largest one and the black one) had figured out that they could hop into her elevated feed tray and walk across it -then leap onto mammas back from there! 
I watched them do that later on when they decided they wanted back on again. 
They in turn taught the other two chicks how to play the playground on that hanging tray and jump on mommy.

(notice others are watching)

Seriously it was like watching trapeze artists at the circus or a mom at the park with toddlers. 
At one point all four chicks were on/in the food dish eating momma's food - maybe they were just stuck there because momma hen walked away (tired of the game) but you know "chick food is for babies and they are a week old, after all!

Then I heard a strange & loud kind of "balk-balk-balk" sound coming from Roo. I was busy moving in a huge pallet and a board and scraping them across the floor and all that- kind of stuff they normally wouldn't tolerate in such a small space. 

I turned to see what the ruckus was about, half expecting him to be 'yelling at me' for making a mess having removed all their straw and having moved their nest boxes, etc... but no, he was in the absolute corner with three hens attentive to his weird calling - watching him intently from only a foot away.

He fitted himself until he was finally "setting" in a hollow straw nest the hens often create on the floor, and turning around in it, barely fitting, his tail feathers all pushed up because there wasn't room for him in that 'nest'.  
After a while he stood up and moved to the very edge of that nest and quieted down again. 

Then, a hen squeezed herself in between him and the wall to take over possession of the nest. She tossed straw over her shoulders as if nesting to lay an egg. 
He didn't flinch; he looked like he was standing guard. (I got the impression he was acting almost like a parent with arms crossed who was supervising kids after mandating some kind of work/job to do!) He was so close to the nest that when the white one was in it you couldn't hardly see her at all! 

She made herself comfortable and tossed a bit of straw over her shoulders too. She was making clucking noises as if no one was there and all was normal. He still didn't move a muscle. 

After a good 5 minutes she got up and I watched as the third hen then push her way behind him as the second hen left. Then satisfied that the hens 'got the message' (whatever it was), he finally strutted away and they made their way outside to stand near the door. 

One more hen that waited back went over to look at the nest and did the same thing the other two had done. (Sorry I had an error trying to lead the video).

Now I am not sure, but it sure LOOKED like he was instructing them to start nesting "how to lay eggs"!

I had just gotten them some new feed the day before, one that is called 'crumbles' instead of pellets and has a high protein content - to encourage them to lay again. 
Perhaps he hears those chicks and wonders if it means the chopping block if they don't get busy?
Did you ever consider the psychological workings of a chicken? LOL  I most certainly have been! 
Keeping chickens is a trip because chickens are a trip. 

- If you've got some chicken stories to tell, please do!


UPDATE as of this evening: we have an egg! I almost missed it- it was laid behind the (coop) door! 
(Just to let you know, my chickens are 3 years old and were laying infrequently all winter...then kept dropping. 
When I got them they had been on 16% layer pellets but immediately went into a 2-month-long MOLT (and quit laying), then like a picky cat, didn't like the new brand of pellets at the store, so it took twice as long for them to go thru a bag of it -and they never really got laying again.  I figured they didn't need lay feed if they were not laying so I changed their feed from kitchen scraps and scratch (for 3 weeks), and I watched as the egg-laying production dropped from one egg every other day to ZERO.
I gave them protein like yogurt and scrambled eggs and sausage... but they were getting carbs (biscuits, cereals, etc.) because they LIKE that the most.
So I got granulated 18% protein layer feed... (serving 2 parts lay to 1 part scratch grains). They've been on this higher protein feed product for 3 days.)

And now we'll see how the laying goes... maybe Roo's message really got thru!

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