Finally Free Ranging

free-ranging

The girls have been squawking and pecking at each other so much they sometimes take out their frustration by pecking at us! We decided they need more entertainment in their life to make them happier. After all, happy chickens make better eggs!

I wasn’t sure about letting my girls out of their nice, protected run, but watching how excited they were when they got to bolt out the door was just too much fun! Fat,happy and waddling just looks natural on them!

I couldn’t help myself. I had to follow every move they made to make sure they weren’t getting too far away, weren’t eating anything suspicious and weren’t putting themselves in danger. I eventually gave that up. You can’t keep an eye on 28 different chickens at the same time. I decided to spend my supervising time watching the sky for hawks and standing like a road block to the most dangerous areas I didn’t want them to get into.

I still managed to panic a couple times. The girls found a mushroom and before I could get to them 7 of them tore it apart and swallowed it down! I prayed that night “Dear God, please don’t let me wake up to 7 dead chickens”!  I carefully opened the coop door in the morning and they were alive and well! PHEW!

Another scare we had was the first time we didn’t supervise their free ranging and went inside to eat lunch with my sister. My sister was staring outside the window and ?asked…”what kind of bird is that?” Well…….THAT was a hawk! We all quickly ran outside and luckily it looked like the chickens were smart enough to hide under the bushes!

They are obsessed with plastic plant markers! they pull them out of the ground, run around with them, peck them into small pieces and eat them! I had to walk all over the yard and pull up every plant label. And I still sometimes find a new one pulled up from god knows where!

I also found plants, like periwinkle, they probably shouldn’t be eating that I’m going to have to cut out of the garden. I’ll be praying again tonight on that one! They really know how to tear up gardens. The lovely herb garden around their run that was in full bloom has been chewed down to the nub and the space between the plants have turned into dust bathing sights! Ugh. I decided to cover the plants with pots since their beginning to die back for the fall anyway. I’ll fix it in the winter and put a small deterrent fence around it so they can enjoying eating some, but not all of the plants next year.

All in all, the chickens are happier, they are more entertaining to watch free ranging, and the egg quality has definitely gone up!

You can watch the girls’ excitement being let out to free range on their YouTube Channel:

 

 

Hen Aprons (or Chicken Saddles)

aracauna-hen-apron

Have you ever hear of a Hen Apron? I hadn’t either but the internet is a wonderful place to find solutions to your problems!

It’s molting season so some of the girls are starting to lose feathers. What I didn’t know is that when chickens lose enough feathers to show skin, other chickens get tempted to peck those open spots and literally draw blood! What nasty girls they’ve become! So much squawking I felt so bad for the molters!

I started by separating the one chicken with an open wound into her own pen, but within a day they were picking on another! That’s when I did my research and discovered the hen apron and ordered a few online. You put this cape like cloth on the chicken like a back pack. It’s got 2 straps to put the wings through, and covers the spots that are being pecked until they heal up and grow new feathers. It only took them a few minutes to get used to wearing it and all 4 of the girls currently wearing them are healing up nice!

Hen Aprons are also called Chicken Saddles. All you need to know is you call it a chicken saddle if you have a rooster. I’m sure you can picture it!

I ordered a grab bag of hen aprons which will undoubtedly be more colorful than the ones pictured. Those are future pictures you might now what to miss!

If you want to see how the girls like their aprons, watch it on their YouTube channel!