The Free Rangers

Wow!! What 2 weeks can do for the confidence level when you’re a chicken!! People told me to give them a month or so and they’d be used to their environment, me and their new coop. Tuesday passed was 2 weeks that I’ve had them.

I let them roam the inside of the penned area on their own for the last two weeks. It took almost a week for them to come and go freely from the inside of the coop to the penned in area. Being impatient, I forced it one day, outside they went. They all huddled in the corner like it was a time out session, so I scooped them up and put them in the coop. Clearly they needed to do it on their schedule, not mine.

A few days after that it was a step or two down the ramp, with a bit more progress each day. Once they were fully outside there wasn’t any stopping them! They love it!! If you’re late (7am is late for these guys) they plough you over when you open the door.

For the last week or so they’ve been curious at the pen door. Watching me in the garden and loving every worm or grub I bring them! Monday I said, well, let’s see what’s going to happen and I left the access door open. They explored beyond their pen immediately but with caution. By the end of the day they were pros in the backyard and knew the good spots to forage.

The days it’s going to rain, they will have to be penned because they can’t seem to put 2 and 2 together yet. They huddle in the corner and get drenched until coop mommy shows up and manually lifts them into the coop. Lol! This happened a few times on Sunday when it was pouring so they need to figure it out before I let them free range with rain in the forecast. They don’t have a ‘mom’ to show them these things .. But I can only teach so much in a torrential downpour!

Now, if I’m not mistaken every flock has one of ‘these’ girls and I’m here to add this sweet little one to the no-so-smart list. Lets just say she isn’t the brightest chick on the block, but she is definitely the sweetest girl I have. I’m going to diagnose her with severe ADD. Lol! She is forever losing her flock members or her one partner she sticks with. Once she realizes she is separated she pops her head up and starts with her calls of panic … And they seriously all just look at her, like really Miss Molly? Again? The first 10 calls she did, they all ran to her, to her rescue. After those ten false calls, they just sit and stare at her and even ignore her as they continue foraging. Apparently if you cry wolf too many times even chickens will ignore you!

Miss Molly will pace back and forth on the outside of the pen and not realize right there, seriously right there, is how you get in. I have to go and guide her. She will be foraging with her soul sister and see a mosquito and chase it. No matter how far it takes her. Yum! They are so good!! Then she will look around and panic because she’s on her own and she will start with her calls. She does this with mosquitos, butterflies, bees, dragon flies, flies, basically anything that flies…they all chase the flying bugs but somehow the others manage to stay together or get back to their preferred grouping.

As I type this with my morning tea she has lost herself and called 9-1-1 at least twice already. They aren’t showing her any mercy haha!

Chickens can actually run pretty fast! These guys also love to flap their wings and half run, half fly around the backyard as soon as you let them out. It’s like a big celebration of a new day. It makes me smile as I head back into the house to make my morning tea.

Even the babies are out free ranging the last four days. I fenced them in the first day and that was ok because it was a new adventure for them. They weren’t having anything to do with boundaries from the second day onwards. When I put the temporary fence up, they would just knocked it over trying to get out, they’d fly over it and even get tangled in it. I tried relentlessly for over an hour to contain them. Then the big girls flew in and I said that’s it, screw it!!! The temporary fencing went away and I said to the girls y’all can figure it out and walked back to my veggie garden. They’re is some pecking from the big girls to the little ones, but with them free ranging the little ones can escape quickly if they need to. So far no blood! Just laying down the rules.

They are still separated in the coop at night. Hopefully in the next week or so, I can remove the barrier and everyone can get along. A few more days, to a week, of free ranging together and hopefully they’ll have their pecking order sorted.

The new chickens that were being added this weekend, well weird as it is, I got told the deal couldn’t go down on Saturday because of family drama on a Tuesday. Instincts tell me it’s an ‘off’ situation and I hate drama. I have ordered 6, 6 week olds for September from the hatchery, and my ducklings will be here June 16th.

Ducklings are coming!!! Ducklings are coming!!! Woot woot!! Get ready to hear all about them too! I’m getting 4 Muscovy’s and 2 Pekins day olds.

I wish my youngest niece lived close or was coming for a visit. I know I’d have her full help with the ducklings and getting them for their first swim and teaching them to follow and explore etc., She could help me collect eggs (once egg laying starts) and she’s a stellar baker so I’m sure she’d put these eggs to good use!!

(The picture has my German Shepherd.  She is so good with these girls they don’t fear her at all.  There is one behind her you can see .. Cinder is a gentle giant)

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