Well I walked into the back yard right before dark to water the plants and sit in the swing for a few minutes while swatting hordes of vampire flies and realized I didn’t close the cage to the chicken pen in the back paddock the night before.
I was almost scared to walk out there and check on them thinking surely some would be missing or they’d be zombie chickens half eaten by something – yes I’m talking to you black bear wherever you are. But they all looked at me quite happily like they had been partying all day outside their pen and having a grand old time with no predators to speak of. Well I’m sure there predators especially hawks but they must have been feeling generous.
A few weeks ago I had built a flimsy temporary fence around their pen and an even more temporary gate which the chickens could have pushed over from the inside or the two large dogs guarding the perimeter could have broke into from the outside. I had never planned on the fence and gate being used while I wasn’t home but all was good. It wasn’t quite dark when I went to close the door to the main pen so I had to run to keep the chickens from seeing me and running for the exit. They were still perched on their roosts when I ran out there and looked at me like I was crazy for running to the pen.
I hate keeping them caged without getting out to eat grass and bugs. The first day I let them out the California white which is kin to the leghorn, an egg layer, ran out and got in direct sunlight and laid down in the grass and spread it’s white wings to absorb the sunlight. Their pen is in a heavy shade area and gets no sun so I didn’t realize how much they must have missed the sunlight.
I decided I was going to finally spend the time and energy to build them a large chicken run when they kept running to the door when I’d go to give them their daily feed and they’d voraciously attack the green grass sprigs just outside the door. I’d guard the door like a soccer goal to keep them from darting past me but I’d let them clear the grass from the door area.
Their 12’x12′ cage is inside a much larger paddock that the two large dogs patrol which is adjacent but outside of my main fenced area where we keep 4 small dogs. The large dogs are my answer to bob cats, possums, racoons, and yes even a black bear attack that wiped out 6 large chickens in one swoop by pulling them from underneath a cage drumstick by drumstick through a very narrow steel mesh. I still don’t understand the physics that allowed that to happen as it should have been impossible.
Oh well. I guess I’m lucky this time that I didn’t lose my flock of chickens and the eggs they produce. Maybe for a few days the egg yolks will be a little bit richer for the extra vitamins all the grass and bugs provided. Nothing beats natural chicken feed for chickens and a little more space to enjoy themselves.