Lately, my husband has enjoyed letting our chickens out of their fenced-in area for freedom-loving sessions in the yard. He keeps an eye on them so they don’t destroy the garden, and they very happily strut around finding all kinds of bugs and other goodies. Usually, he lets them range not too long before the end of the day, so that the hens will be inclined to return to their coop without a lot of coaxing.
Note the one on the left: contemplating escape!
It’s certainly very cute, but the new diversion may have created a monster. This morning, we woke up to what seemed like unusually loud clucking. It turned out that one of our hens was right outside our bedroom window. Whereas we usually hear them a little distance away, clucking to be let out of their coop, this girl was mere feet from our heads, agitating to get back in.
It seems that she’d spent the night outside. Because we got home after dark, we didn’t realize that she wasn’t on the roost with the other birds (though my husband says he’d gotten a funny feeling that someone was missing when he closed up the coop). We figure she must have flown over the electric fence sometime during the day, roosted in the trees for the night, and then gotten alarmed when her little chicken brain couldn’t figure out how to fly back over the fence.
As my husband said, it’s fine for the chickens to leave their fence if they observe two simple rules: Don’t eat the garden, and don’t get eaten. Neither of these is a real good bet. We’re hoping our idyllic little chicken setup isn’t entering a breakdown mode.