We’ve swapped the chickens’ free range area from the pumpkin bed to an area under the fruit trees.
It’s far more interesting for them – trees, fruit bushes, and a rough area of grass to scratch at. It also contained huge quantities of old carpet, lengths of wood, fertiliser sacks, rusty bits of angle iron, and the remains of a plastic storage box. All left by the previous allotment holder. We’ve cleared everything that we could see, of course, which is why it’s taken so long for it to be ready. Now that the leaves have fallen, it’s much easier.
But in spite of our efforts, the chickens have uncovered further archeological layers of carpet, obviously put down as a weed suppressant. We’ll clear it all eventually. I’m also going to dismantle the old compost heap, which will extend the chickens’ area a lot. But the compost heap is full of more rubbish, including sheets of glass, which will have to be removed with great care. I don’t want the chickens to be rummaging around amongst glass splinters.
Much as the chickens love the new area, we were much amused by one small problem this evening. The weather had cleared up by mid afternoon, so they had their free ranging time in the hours up to bedtime. We tidied the run, and refilled the water and feed, and left them to their own devices.
At about ten to six, as it was getting dark, the cockerel moved back into the run, filled his crop from the feeder, and marched purposefully up the ramp and into the coop. He’s often first in, and the procedure is that he selects his place on the perches, makes himself comfortable, then makes a contented chuckling noise which we take to mean, “Come to bed, girls! It’s nice and warm in here.”
But the hens were still outside when he made his siren call. They heard him all right. Maybe it’s an instinctive reaction, but instead of walking back into the run and thence into the coop, they gathered outside the coop, and craned their necks towards the seductive chuckling. The more he called them, the more perplexed they became.
Eventually we took pity and shooed them into the run. At which point they too marched into the coop, as if there had never been a problem. I suppose that the great thing about having a really short memory is that you can’t suffer from embarrassment.