Free range chickens

Cherisse’s mother and her husband are visiting from Colorado. They have taken on the project of electrifying the chicken house; providing more light in the winter will hopefully increase egg yield during the shorter, colder days. While they work, the chickens race about, pecking and scratching. The chickens seem to have good preservation instincts: they don’t stray too far from the shelter of numerous bushes, and when they want to cross an open area they have a run/fly combination that is hilarious to watch.

At first I was afraid they wouldn’t remember where their water was, but they go in and out of their house throughout the day, returning a final time at dusk, when they start to jockey for prime roost position. They aren’t always so clever though. We have been bringing them kitchen scraps late in the day (we are trying to condition them to follow us, in case we need to get them in at a certain time). Tonight I carried over a bowl with melon and tomato pieces and a pot with yesterday’s corn cobs. Most of the chickens hustled after me, but two didn’t go in their door…instead they tried desperately to get through the fence, focused only on the food I had tossed in. I tried to herd them in, but even that took some doing.

Chicken on rockChickens pecking
I can’t believe how much fun it is to look out the window and see them scooting about. Forget Angry Birds–watching free range chickens is much more fun. Rebecca gives them a wide berth; she watches them, but they are just too big for her to mess with. The dogs are interested in the droppings, but except for an occasional chase, they usually walk past them.

Letting them out was a success all around. Endless fun for all. Featherfoot, however, is still losing feathers! We think she might be pulling out her own feathers now…we just aren’t sure. If there is blood, we will need to segregate her immediately. Chickens are omnivores; like sharks they zero right in when there is blood. We will continue to watch until forced to take action.

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