Several weeks ago I wrote about how our dog was sneaking into the chicken fence to scrounge around for scraps we left for the chickens. Since then this little habit has become slightly more problematic. Luckily she is still not interested at all in the birds themselves, but she has progressed from eating the scraps thrown in to actually eating their food (yes- the bird food with corn bits, etc) and drinking their water. Just to be clear, we provide clean drinking water to our dog at all times in her own bowl and she is fed plenty of food twice a day. Additionally, Toba was unable to 'break out' of the fenced area after she broke in, and simply sat by the gate barking nonstop until someone let her out (only to break back in a few minutes later). To compound the problem the chickens were getting out under the fence where Toba got in, so half the time, the dog was locked in the chicken coop, and the chickens were happily pecking around the yard. We even have one smart chicken who flies into the front yard and visits our bird feed several times a day (it is quite funny to see chickadees and finches hanging out with a chicken).
So this past weekend we decided to just let the chickens get in a little free ranging time around the backyard and woods before the garden starts to come in. They are still within the much larger fence that keeps Toba in and some other predators out. The best part is that they are right outside our backdoor now for our entertainment.
Having these birds has been a magical experience for all of us. Not only do they provide beautiful, yummy eggs, but their entertainment value and the lessons of responsibility and compassion that they share with the twins is wonderful. Hadley and Finley are involved in every aspect of caring for the birds, from cleaning their coop to feeding them and collecting eggs. These 5 girls come running when we open the door, and allow us to stroke their feathers and carry them around tucked under our arms. Even feisty Fiona has calmed down a bit.
I had no idea how fun they would be, and it is all I can do not to order new chicks for this coming year!