I’ve mentioned several times how our pet chickens are just that, pets. We’ve spent a lot of time with them since we first got them in August of 2011, socializing them so that when we are around them they are friendly and approachable. But, we never thought they would be as friendly as they are today, not too mention, gutsy.
We decided to let our chickens be free range in our pasture back in late summer because we grew tired of having to move them around the property every couple of weeks. I’ve seen many other chickens roam completely free on other properties and David and I thought, why not try it out? Our only concern was the potential of one of our dogs getting too close but since they were in the pasture surrounded by an electric fence, we figured they’d be pretty safe.
So, we took down the smaller 40 foot electric fence surrounding their mobile chicken coop and let them run free and they were in chickie heaven. The sheep and goats were curious as to what they were and all of them came over to check out what was going on, sniffing them, trying to figure out what they were doing in their pasture. It didn’t take long until they were part of their flock following them to all corners of the several acre pasture. Sometimes I’d find them way out by the pond in the third pasture pecking the ground, completely unaware of how far they had gone.
But most of the time the chickens stay close to the barn where they now nested and laid their eggs. Gone are the days of opening the roosting boxes on the coop and discovering four perfect little eggs. Now we are lucky if we can find one because they end up laying them throughout the barn or maybe even in the pasture! If you are a regular follower of the blog then you read this post on the time I discovered over fifty eggs in one spot. If you haven’t read it yet you can read it here.
Now our ladies are totally free range and are loving life to the fullest. The only problem is, regardless of the fact that they have about 5 plus acres of pasture to explore, they’ve grown bored and I believe they have the attitude that the grass is greener on the other side because they keep finding their way through the electric fence and in our yard. Sometime last week I saw Isis, our American Bulldog, standing at the front door looking out the window. She usually only does this when she either has to go to the bathroom or their is someone or something out there. So, I decided to take a look and this is what I found.
Knock knock! Who’s there? Oh, just Big Red and her three silly sisters!
I couldn’t believe my eyes! All four of them were just hanging out on and around our front stoop. I called David over and we both got a pretty good laugh at this. Unfortunately, we needed to make sure that they wouldn’t keep doing this because of the dogs and cats. All it would take was one time and we’d be digging a grave for one of our beloveds.
So with a little investigating, I realized that they were slipping right under the gate leading in and out of the pasture but that didn’t mean I fixed it right away. So far the dogs and cats hadn’t payed much attention to the ladies so I thought we just might be in the clear until a few days ago that was.
I was out by the barn on the phone and had all three dogs out there with me and as I was walking back from getting something from inside the shop I noticed Coleman, our English Bulldog, chasing Goldie Hen, one of our chickens. Then Gwen, one of the other chickens started flapping her wings and running in circles and Isis took notice and started chasing her. Forgetting that I was on the phone, I screamed at Isis and Coleman and started chasing them around as they chased the chickens around. It was one big cluster you know what and I ended up getting two of the chickens back in the pasture and needed to find the other two.
Unfortunately, Isis found one of them first. I turned around and she was chasing Mary, lunging up as she was in mid-air and snipped her tail feathers. I ran and grabbed Isis by the collar, allowing Mary to run into the barn. I yelled at Isis to stay and ran into the barn after Mary. I found her hiding behind the stacks of hay and knelt down to pick her up. Poor thing was practically shaking. I’m sure she just saw her life flash before her eyes. I got her back in the barn stalls safely and realized I still couldn’t find Big Red. After walking around the inside and outside of the barn I finally went into the pasture hoping she’d be there. And low and behold, she was. Somehow in all the madness she managed to get back into the pasture on her own, unscathed.
When all the chickens were back in the pasture and I had a moment to collect myself, I put the dogs on the deck, locking them in, and headed back out to figure out how to fix the fence. I found two old boards and sealed up the space where they climb through and they haven’t been a problem since.
I know one day all our animals will die but I’m hoping and praying they all go naturally and from old age. Nothing would be worse, in my eyes, then having to put one down because they’d been attacked by another animal. All of which is part of living in the country but one can hope, can’t they?