Sure enough, my young flock has passed the natural boundary of the woods and is fully into the green, green grasslands on the other side.
I apologized. “I’m so sorry,” I told our neighbor. “We shoo the birds back whenever we see them nearing your property.”
“No problem at all,” she told me. “Your chickens can eat all the bugs and ticks from our lawn that they want.” This is another neighbor that has not seen a tick on any of her outdoor cats this summer. She enjoys our chickens and looks forward to seeing them scratching in her yard.
Do you know what a difference it makes when your neighbors accept your flock? (and yes, our neighbors will be getting eggs as soon as the brats start laying)
She did warn me about the large female falcon she has seen in her yard (and which she blames for the death of one of her cats.) I’ve seen the falcon twice in our yard, and my flock (even the obnoxious juveniles) knows to take heed (they all rush to hide under bushes or low hanging areas.) Our neighbor also warned me about a large fox that she has seen pacing our property line.
I know it’s just a matter of time. As I tell people in my chicken classes, if you make the decision to free-range your chickens, you make the decision to lose a few to predators. As long as you understand that, all is well.
Because I’m one who likes to have her cake and eat it too, I physically get up from my desk and check on the chickens several times a day, thinking that maybe I can keep them from harm. But I’m also a bit of a realist. Roving chickens are targets.
And I know it’s just a matter of time.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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3 responses to “Lesson 1139 – A matter of time”
I worry about my gals free ranging, too, but life is short and they are just so.. happy wandering about. Mine are in a small yard and protected at night in a well made coop but they could still get nabbed by birds of prey (one bantam was recently snatched then dropped from 20 feet up). I rationalize free ranging them by contrasting the “safety” they’d get in an enclosed run (with no grass left after a week) with the nutrition and “happy chicken-ness they get eating grubs until their time comes.. Your girls look blissful!
You have a happy little ecosystem there, with the chickens eating the bugs that bother the neighbor’s cats. I just wish it didn’t extend to foxes and falcons eating the chickens! I’m surprised the cats don’t harass them when they’re over in “their” yard.
You have summed up my philosophy perfectly!!! I do have predator-proof fence around about two acres of our property, enclosing our home, garden, chicken coop, etc, The chickens have a well built coop and run, but there is a pop door on their run, and they’re free to roam at will. We live in the mountains, so there’s an abundance of wildlife about. Our 3 dogs and 2 cats are their guardians. They are all happy creatures.