At the beginning of the week, before the New Year, we got several inches of heavy, wet snow. By late in the day it had pretty much stopped snowing. James would be coming home from work soon, so I shoveled the front porch and sidewalk and then made my way to the deck and out to the chicken coop. I timed it so that when I reached the Dashwoods they would be just about ready to be closed in the coop for the night.

Everything went as planned. When I made it out to the chicken garden I could hear the Dashwoods making their going to bed soon coos. Since the run is currently surrounded by opaque plastic (I wish I could use something other than plastic but there are currently no other options I am aware of) they can’t see me and I can’t see them. We can hear each other though, and as I shoveled I talked to them so they would know it was me and everything was okay.

I got to the run door, opened it and stepped inside. Elinor took one look at me, screamed, and scrambled in a panic up the ladder and into the coop. The other chickens weren’t quite sure what was happening but because of Elinor’s panic, they too, ran up the ladder and into the coop. I could hear them in there scrambling around. I turned on my flashlight and poked my head in the chicken-sized door at the top of the ladder.

Poor Elinor was running around trying to figure out what corner to cram herself into for safety. The others were still trying to figure out what was going on. I talked to them, saying their names, and told them there was nothing to be afraid off. But the panic did not subside.

I stood up and then realized what made Elinor scream. My hat!

The hat that made Elinor scream

Now I’ve made some questionable fashion choices in my life but none of them caused screaming. And my hat is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. It’s bright orange and my winter coat is purple, which makes a marvelous contrast. I have received compliments from strangers. The Dashwoods obviously are not fashion forward.

Generally in winter when I see the chickens I am not wearing anything on my head. If I am, it’s the hood of my jacket pulled up. When I went out to shovel, the temperature was dropping and I put on my winter hat because the hood of my coat tends to get in the way when I am shoveling. The chickens have all seen me in a hat before, I wear one all summer long when I am in the garden. My garden hat is even close to the same shape as my winter hat only my garden hat is a dark, kind of washed out olive green color.

But chickens panic when something is not what they expect. We tried to give them a green cabbage once as a treat when there were no purple cabbages to be found, and they acted like we had just presented them with a deadly monster. No one screamed, but they all got as far away as they could and stood there giving it the side eye. No amount of persuasion could convince them to eat it. We did get them to eat it though by shredding it up, rendering it unrecognizable.

The Dashwoods expect to see me without anything on my head, with my jacket hood pulled up, or with a green hat. Orange hats are not expected.

I took the hat off and stuck my head back in the coop. It’s okay silly Dashwoods, I soothed, it’s just me. They were still upset but at least Elinor stopped trying to smash herself into a corner. I bid them good night, closed the coop door, locked the run door, and went inside my own house for the night.

I felt a little guilty, but not guilty enough to keep from laughing when I told James about it later. Nonetheless, the orange hat is not likely to reappear when I visit the Dashwoods.