This week we unlocked the gate to the chicken run and released the flock for the first time. It did not take much coaxing to get them out the door. They’ve been eyeing that luscious green grass for a long time, tearing off any blades that grew within reach. I gathered some and dropped them like bread crumbs across the threshold and stood back to watch. Surprisingly, the hens were the first to be courageous and step out. Once they were out and exposed, though, Cooper came out to keep himself between his girls and any perceived danger. When one of them got a little too far away, he ran over and made it clear she must run back to a safer spot. That’s nice.
Buster does not seem to feel as protective of the flock, just a little ornery with them when Cooper is not nearby. He is now standing tall and crowing an authentic “Cock-a-doo…” without yet finishing the full sentence I was expecting. I am so surprised that Cooper has not gotten the hang of crowing yet, especially with competition from the upstart.
We have given them this opportunity for some free range playtime several times this week. First, we must lock up the dogs so there is no terror or violence. Once the chickens decide they’ve had enough, they walk themselves back into the run. Any strays who linger are easily herded in with a long stick.
Last night I had some windows open and as I walked by I heard a noise like children playing on a playground. There is no such playground out here at the farm. Quickly though, the sounds shifted into the familiar chorus of yips and howls from a pack of coyotes somewhere out in the darkness. How creepy is that? The motion-sensor lights on the barn were not lit, so I suspect the howling was carried over the field from across the road. I was crossing my fingers that the chickens would still be alive today and yes they are. No digging marks around the fence or anything.
Tonight, I was out with the dogs for a quick run before bedtime and it occurred to me to open the coop door and see what goes on in there when they tuck in for the night. Here they are – all lined up on top of the nesting boxes for the night. What do you know!