So once I had ridded the nest of mites, I needed to get Hannah back sleeping in the cozy, warm coop. I didn’t want her to be cold or wet or hurt at night while she slept in the trees.
So the first night after I found her in the trees, I hatched three plans to get her back into the coop at night, a plan A, a plan B and a plan C.
Plan A consisted of me luring her into the coop each night with treats and shutting her in so that she had no choice but to go into the house to sleep. She would eventually get used to this and go to bed on her own.
Plan B consisted of me going out at night in the dark and getting her out of the tree and putting her into the coop.
If plan A and plan B failed, plan C was to lock her in the coop for a week until she realised this was her home. But that was a drastic thing to do to a free range hen.
The first night after finding her sleeping in the trees, I put plan A into action. I lured her into the coop with watermelon and yoghurt, about one hour before her bedtime. All three of the big girls trotted into the coop for the treats and I shut the door behind them. They ate the yoghurt, pecked away at the watermelon (until they tipped it skin side up and couldn’t be bothered turning it back over) and by the time they realised they were locked in for the night, they all happily hopped up onto the perch to wait for bedtime.
Later in the evening after they were settled for the night, I checked in the coop to see where they were sleeping.
I found Hilda Hen and Helen Hen in their normal beds (my girls have always slept in the nesting boxes) and Hannah Hen had squeezed herself in with Helen in the same nesting box. There was no way she was going back to the other side of the coop because those nests were where the mites were. What a clever chicken.
The next night I lured her into the coop with her favourite treat tin but Helen and Hilda were busy outside and didn’t want to go in. I let Hannah Hen wander back out and thought I would get them all a little later in the evening but I missed my opportunity and Hannah waddled off and flew up into her tree for the night. I decided not to put plan B into action as the tree was at the bottom of a steep bank and I couldn’t imagine traversing down it in the dark (even with a torch) as I would probably end up rolling down the bank and frightening Hannah from her roosting spot and I may never find where she sleeps again.)
The next night I managed to lure Hannah Hen in with another of her favourite treats, corn on the cob. Hilda and Helen followed shortly after. That evening Hilda and Hannah slept in the two larger nest boxes at the favourite end and Helen got relegated to the “mite” end of the coop where the three smaller boxes are.
For the rest of the week, the evenings went on as above, with only one night sleeping in the trees. But when will she go back into the coop at night on her own like she used to? This weekend would be the test. We were going away. Would she take the opportunity to go back to her tree with me not being there to lure and lock her in, or would she realise the coop was safe, warm and mite-free and be happy to put herself to bed there?
We got home tonight about twenty minutes after the big girls’s bedtime. I went outside and tentatively peeped into the nest boxes and there she was! Hannah Hen had taken herself to bed and was tucked into the nesting box, safe and warm. She was still sleeping in Helen’s “mite-free” bed and Helen was in the smaller bed all alone at the other end of the coop but I don’t care.
At last I can say I have my Hannah Hen back home. What a relief.