My chickens are one of my great joys in life. So are my children, but that doesn't mean they don't both do silly things that aggravate me sometimes. The trouble is, you can't ground chickens from the computer or the Wii or the telephone, or the car.
My seven chickens only get out to free range on our acreage for about 2 hours a day. The rest of the time they scratch about in their run. Their run is about 16x25, so they have plenty of room to laze about, take dust baths, and lay their eggs in the coop. The reason for being in the run most of the day is three-fold----predators, laying eggs in the same place every day, and naughtiness. They get in a whole world of trouble when they are free to wander about. It doesn't matter one bit to them that we have four lovely acres to search for snacks on; they have to wander nearly an acre away to scratch about in my neighbors flower beds. We have flowers beds at home! Luckily, my neighbors are good sports and don't strangle me when they find out that is wasn't armadillos in their beds, but chickens. Another bit of naughtiness is coming into the fenced backyard (again, we have 4 open acres!), and drinking out of the dog's water bowl and pooping on the porch. Ever had a nice doggy kiss after they've been eating chicken poo----eewww! I've blocked all the places they can scootch under the fence, but they find new ones. The same goes for the area around our pool. I can look up from making dinner and find seven chickens taking dust bathes in the beds behind the pool. Do they scratch about so that all the dirt and mulch end up outside the fence? No, they scratch so it ends up in the pool! The same goes for the mulch in the beds around the house. We have very large beds, so for all their scratching and searching for bugs, the upturned mulch should mathematically end up somewhere else in the beds---not! It ends up on the sidewalk, the driveway, or outside the beds in the grass. Recently they've added a new bit of naughtiness to their list, but it's not so bad and doesn't harm anyone. It just has me shaking my head. If you'll notice in the top picture, there is a very cozy nest box that they have used for 3 years without problem. It's up off the ground a bit and helps keep the fireants and dampness off their bottoms as they lay their eggs. Do they use it anymore? What do you think? One of the hens decided it would be more fashionable to lay just to the right of the box. Do you see the eggs peeking out of the hay? Oh well.
Despite all their flaws, I find my ladies and gentleman to be very soothing. They always seem to be working for their keep, they greet me as I work in the garden, they listen without giving advice, they like to gossip a bit, and they are beautiful in a chicken sort of way. My wonderful father-in-lay mentioned this year that since they aren't laying eggs every day that it might be time to make some chicken and dumplings. Not these girls, they have names. Rosie, Sunny, Audrey, Sophia, Violet, Penny and our roo, Tuesday.