It’s December 23 and we got a semi-heatwave so I treated the chickens to a walk around the farmyard to see what they could find. Even at 2:30 pm the sun was so low that their shadows stretched out long behind them.
They were more adventurous than usual, running behind their rooster and venturing out on their own as well. It made Cooper nervous to not have them all under his control and he kept running back and clucking to the stragglers to call them back in line. I was opening the gate to the garden to let them peck around when I noticed the count was short by one. “Red” was missing.
I left the flock by the garden and went searching for her because there are hawks in the area. Sure enough, she was behind the barn, startled and confused to have found herself all alone. I tried to corner her and pick her up to take her back to the flock, but she kept dodging me and squawking up a storm. The next thing I knew, Cooper came tearing around the corner and flew up and over the compost box to save her. When he saw it was only me he slowed down and relaxed but I was proud of him for putting his hens before his own safety.
I put everyone back into their run, counted beaks, and locked the gate back up. When I came back around to say goodnight, they all flew up onto the straw bales to greet me, which I found flattering. I have been trying to teach them that when I say, “Corn?” they should get all excited because I’m about to throw a couple cups full of cracked corn down. I think it has just taught them that my presence is a happy event, which is also nice.