Every afternoon about 5 o’clock we let our chickens out into the yard and garden to forage until their bedtime. Since we have predators around — hawks, eagles, and coyotes — we make sure there’s a human nearby in the yard to keep an eye on our girls.
We joke that we’re tuning in to the chicken channel. It’s relaxing live entertainment. We’ll even pop open a beer or pour a glass of wine to enjoy while watching the hens forage for grass, bugs, grubs, and slugs.
Here’s Lacey, a Silver-laced Wyandotte, looking for something tasty among the geranium foliage and bugleweed.
Carmen, the brown girl in the foreground, heads to the lawn.
Iris, an Australorp, pokes among the forget-me-nots and daylily foliage.
Cocoa also likes foraging among the geraniums.
These girls are among six hens we acquired in mid-March from a friend who had more than he needed or wanted. They’re all laying, usually giving us 4 or 5 eggs each day.
While they’re out foraging we have to watch their behavior in our perennial beds. Because they like to scratch the ground and peck for food they can easily dig up freshly-planted little seedlings. Sometimes we have to chase them back to the lawn, but mostly they’re rather well behaved and do a good job keeping the top layer of soil loose and aerated. It would be nice if we could train them to eat the weeds, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Come five o’clock this afternoon I’ll be back in the yard, watching the chicken channel.