Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chickens uncooped






Now that it's just the two of them, we've been letting Betty and Penny come out of the coop to explore the yard a little bit. We don't wish for them to be free-range chickens; we don't have enough room for it and we don't want them to eat all our plants. But we don't see much harm in letting them for a little while each day to hunt and peck. They find lots of insects to eat: Betty scarfed down a whole caterpillar the other day, while Penny pursued a pill bug and caught it for a snack. We let them loose in our strawberry patch the other day, when I took these photos. The good strawberries were all gone, picked and eaten mostly by the GB, who liked to go out in the late afternoon "to have a look," which usually meant eating anything that was remotely ripe. (She gets it from her mother). Betty and Penny don't care much about ripeness, so they were eager to eat the left-behind green strawberries. We always have a few that never ripen; I assume this is due to the heat or the dryness but it happens every year. We usually leave them to wither on the plants but not this year. Now the spent strawberry patch is chicken heaven! They eat the green berries, any bugs hanging out on or under the plants, grass and leaves and any other bits they can find. I can see how free-range chickens might mean a quickly decimated garden. I don't plan to find out for myself. But what fun it is to let our hens free for a little while. They duck under bushes and run through the grass. After a little while, they seek out a shady patch to lie down. They must get tired from all that exploration; there's a lot to see and do beyond the coop.

41 comments:

  1. The chickens look as if they are really enjoying the strawberry patch! By the way, I think Betty and Penny area such great names for them.
    Marianne x

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  2. They look very happy! I like their names too!

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  3. What fun for them! I just love that they can explore and pick off the green strawberries and help with all of the insects too! They look perfectly happy!! Nicole xoxo

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  4. Awwww, bless them, they are adorable. My neighbour has been letting hers out for a long time, I am starting to see the wear on her grass and I am very worried for her plants. Her garden is immaculate, so I am surprised she has let them loose! I have a feeling she might change her mind soon. I think you are doing the right thing Jennifer, Betty and Penny will appreciate the time and you can also keep an eye on them to make sure they stay out of trouble! :)

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  5. I'm sure your chickens are very happy to get out of the coop once in awhile and get to roam the yard and eat bugs and plants. They're such lovely creatures!

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  6. Hey Jennifer,
    I let Beryl and Jean out for a while every day. I keep an eye on them because they will decimate all my favourite plants otherwise. This morning they were out for a couple of hours until they decided that my sweet peas were looking rather appealing. But it is lovely to hear they contented clucks as they root around for grubs.
    Leanne xx

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  7. They've come on so much since you got them as tiny chicks, just look at their colouring now, they're beauties. I bet they loved exploring the strawberry patch, and the bugs they managed to find.

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  8. Ah, how nice for them to be able to explore a bit. I think these ladies are much loved.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  9. I bet they had a great time! :o)

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  10. My Cousin has chickens, he calls them his ladies, when he lets them out they all tend to follow him around while he potters in the garden, it's such a cute sight! Your chickens look real happy, and who wouldn't be in a strawberry patch?! x

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  11. I bet it's fun watching your chickens play in your garden, they are very beautiful hens lovely colours, I would enjoy watching them too. :)

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  12. How wonderful for them, it must be great to go a-foraging!

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  13. I'm glad that the chickens are having fun foraging and that you are having fun having the chickens foraging!! Good all round by the sounds and looks of things. xx

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  14. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to set them free! I'd be worried about the garden or them!
    There was a man near my Mum and Dad who just let his chickens roam free on a grass verge near a busy main road. I never worked out whether it was stupidity or bravery!

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  15. And, I meant to say, I am posting about your beautiful give away prize this weekend, now I'm ready to pass the love on!

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  16. They are such a cute pair. I feel like I need a soundtrack to these images, I can just imagine all the happy clucking that was heard as they foraged

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  17. Lovely! We have little robins that follow me round the garden, it would be great to have chickens to do that too... supervised of course! Sadly it's not to be, too many foxes around here.

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  18. Betty and Penny are so cute. I remember when ours were that little.
    Our chooks were free-ranging for a while, but seeing as there are 5 of them and we live on a fairly small block the lawn soon became patchy.
    Just last weekend we built a chicken tunnel (chunnel) for ours along one boundary fence. It's working well and the girls love it. It's basically an arch of chicken wire that they can walk through and patrol for bugs.
    x

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  19. They really have matured into a pair of gorgeous chooks and no wonder, they have landed in chook heaven!
    xoJoy

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  20. I'm happy for you that you have a safe place for a bit of free ranging.. it's so good for them! We have raccoons, skunks and coyotes around here and lost one of our hens in the middle of the day with people around.. so, ours have to stay in their chicken run.. which is nice and big, but they've eaten every green thing in there. We give them lots of goodies though.. such as watermelon rinds, etc. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  21. It is a fun times when the chickens are out and about, and I really like the look of your pair, very cute.
    I had 2 who loved eating rolled oats lol

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  22. Your ladies certainly look like they enjoy pecking around in those strawberries. I've wanted chickens for a long time, but, since we travel to our children's homes often, we have no one willing to take over chicken care for us when we're gone. I love to read about other peoples chickens though and yours seem well loved.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  23. Sounds like they have the best of both worlds, have a lovely weekend.

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  24. These two girls look very serene and happy pecking in the garden. Love the speckled hen's colours. Have a good weekend Jennifer.

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  25. They really look like they're enjoying their lives in your garden...as many bugs and unripe berries as they can manage...heaven for chickens!

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  26. Your girls are looking very pleased with themselves! It's so much fun to watch them wander around, looking for goodies to eat. You probably have as much fun when they are out as they do! :-)

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  27. It's something I wonder about with hens - I think if we ever had them we'd have to do the same thing otherwise all of the veggies would be eaten. But it would be nice for them to have a little run out sometimes. I hope you guys have a good weekend, CJ xx

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  28. They really do look like they are happy.

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  29. They look a very happy pair of birds!

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  30. Oh my! What lucking birds they are and indeed what a treat to find out what treasures are beyond the coop!
    Have a splendid weekend,
    Jemma

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  31. I love the colour of the speckled hen and they both look very content......it's lovely that they get the chance for the occasional free range pecking about in your garden.
    Patricia

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  32. How do you get them back in their chicken run afterwards ? Or are they already so tame that they don't runaway & you can pick them up ? (Mine are, they behave more like a dog than a chicken....)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ingrid! We leave the coop door open and they eventually just wander back in. Sometimes we might have to pick one up and put her inside, but usually they just go in on their own when they've had enough adventuring. :)

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  33. Betty and Penny. Wonderful names :) Which one is which ?

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    1. Hi Jill! Thank you. Betty is the black-and-white chicken. :)

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  34. Good for you letting the chickens get in a bit of free ranging ~ yes do keep an eye on the garden . lol
    But seriously it is such fun to watch the as they explore !

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  35. I loved seeing Betty and Penny, bigger and more beautiful as they explore your backyard, Jennifer!

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  36. I just love reading about your chickens and what they are up to. X

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  37. Lovely girls and yes, they will enjoy the chance to range AND eat lots of insects and pests.

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  38. Your children are such a great blend of both you and your husband, and both so cute! It's been a gazillion years but I still remember those swimming lesson days. Of course, we were in OR at the time, so the pool was inside. If you were the lucky mom running the carpool that day, you got an extra "sauna treatment!" Your crochet is just beautiful, Jennifer. I'm still struggling with just the simple stitches, but I'm getting there!

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