A few weeks ago I was worried about the girls escaping from their pen when I went in to feed them (2 escaped on separate occasions and it took me 10 minutes or so to convince them to go back in). But now that the chickens are established and know where their food is, we've decided to let them out throughout the day to roam about. They're not entirely free-range because we continue to keep them in their (swanky) pen unless we're out with them; however, I can tell they're really enjoying their new privileges. Here are a few pictures of them searching for bugs in the garden.
One of the Hamburgs checking out the blackberry vines. We have a lot of berries ripening but other birds are stealing them before we can enjoy them. I need to research how to keep those pesky birds away...our girls tend to like to scratch around in the pinestraw and leave the berries alone (thank you).
The girls got pretty adventurous one day and went exploring in the woods across from the garden.
Ashley planted these gladiolas in the garden next to one of the irrigation heads. The color is stunning (and irresistible to our older son, who picks multiples of these blooms every time we're in the garden so we end up with lots of little cups around the house, full of water and glads).
More chicken explorations. See Heidi, the grayish hen in the middle? She's the Queen Bee--she pecks at the other girls, always gets the pick of table scraps, and generally rules the roost. I guess a hen will step up to the rooster's role if there's not one around.
The girls continue to lay 4-6 eggs a day, ranging in size from the medium-size white ones (Hamburgs) and the large to extra-large brown ones laid by everyone else. Having the chickens out and about really makes our place feel more like a farm. And when we're ready for them to go back inside, I just clap my hands and walk behind them until they're inside (if they haven't already gone back in on their own, which they do most of the time).
Oh and in goat news...last week I was ready to give them away. This past Friday and Saturday Ashley and I were able to work with them more outside of the pen since our boys were at my parents for the weekend. As my mama pointed out, they're like puppies and they need attention to help them calm down. I still wouldn't classify them as pets, but they are more agreeable to be around--though we haven't reached the point yet where our boys feel safe with them. One of them nibbled on my youngest shirt and another charged our older son. Until we can get their horns removed, they'll only be out with Ashley while the boys and I watch from the (fenced in) porch. Ashley has plans to build them a larger pen in the woods (near where the chickens were roaming).