So I grabbed about six trash cans full of leaves from beneath the Lovely and Gracious Rogue's oak wall out front; the kind of leaves that crunch and crumple and that kids love to destroy big piles of. And I dumped them all in and spread them about, while the ladies clucked and fussed and hid in the nesting boxes. Then I headed up to the house for about 15 gallons of shredded paper I was going to add to the mix.
When I came back, there were no chickens in sight. And there is that moment of panic where you wonder if you left the door open and they all ran out and got eaten by coyotes, or you wonder if you accidentally buried them all alive. You know the feeling. It turns out that they were all roosted in the rafters. I'm not sure if I freaked them out while adding the leaves, or if the leaves are too loud, or if by covering up all the crap and pin feathers they are used to walking on I made them feel not-at-home. But for the rest of Saturday they were content to sit 12' above their beautiful new floor, clucking quietly.
They have to come down eventually. All that yummy cracked corn* I gave them to make up for it isn't going to eat itself.
* They actually get a mix of lay rations, hen scratch, crushed oyster shell, and deer corn, as well as all of our kitchen scraps**. My hens are spoiled brats.
** Except egg shells, which go in the trash. I don't want them to acquire any bad eating habits, if you know what I mean.