With the chickens comfortably living outside in the coop and a week’s worth of training under their wings (following me from the coop to the tractor and back twice a day) I decided it was time to let them free-range in the yard. The Noses, of course, were soundly locked in the house.
At first they stuck very close to me; I would sit in a shady spot just around the corner from the coop and they would happily scratch and hunt and eat their way in a circle around me. Soon enough though, they ventured further and further afield, although always staying close together.
During their free ranging, if one gets separated, they send out a loud chirp and the straggler quickly catches up. Even with the whole yard to explore, they tend to keep an eye on me; if I range too far from them, they quickly send out their chirp and when I respond with a "Chicky Chicky" they run/fly/hop as quickly as they can to get next to me again.
Being a good mother hen, I take them hiking around the yard; I call to them and see if anyone wants to go hunting and then they follow me around as I turn over rocks in search of bugs. (Can you ever see us eating one of these birds? Highly doubtful although JJ, who still likes a good cuddle now and again, feels just about right for a succulent Cornish hen dinner.)
But back to ranging: They will come to me when I call, faster if they notice the treat bag in my hand (organic oats and meal worms—they love it!) so getting them back into the coop isn’t much trouble. Sometimes they put themselves into the coop without any assistance from me. Thankfully (after all that work) they seem to adore their little home.
With the chickens running around the yard, I bet you thought the posting title referred to the chicks’ free-ranging. In fact, the chick freedom refers to me: If you have been reading along, you know we have spent every waking weekend (and some week nights) getting the coop done (it is almost there; still needs some trim and painting; maybe one more week?) But with the chickens living outside and putting themselves to bed at night, we decided it was time for a date.
Heading down to the gorgeous Red Rock Amphitheater we snuggled in to watch our favorite Lyle Lovett in concert. Lyle opened his set with a wonderful old standby, “Black and Blue” during which I relaxed into my own kind of chick freedom; enjoying the full moon, a warm night and the company of the love of my life.
Not five minutes later I was reminded of the chickens when Lyle launched into his crowd-rousing song, “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel”, in which the chorus repeats, "Choke my chicken!" I kid you not.
It was a wonderful night and I was thankful to know that the chicks had put themselves to bed in the coop and would be sound asleep before we got home.
PS: Also in the pictures are our new arrivals: Five Blue Americauna eggs. With a hatch rate of less than 50% we are hoping to get only two which is good as one began to stink in the incubator the first week and another had cracks in it so I had to toss those two out.