They’re out!

In a re­cent is­sue, new­bie hen­keeper Vikki Smith, from Glouces­ter­shire, shared her thoughts on our hobby. Here she re­flects on her birds’ first out­ing…

Your Chickens - - Contents -

A new­bie free rang­ing

To­day our girls flew the nest. Quite lit­er­ally. Well, I say lit­er­ally as they’re birds, but we all know that hens are a lit­tle bit rub­bish at fly­ing. Slightly bet­ter than pen­guins ad­mit­tedly, but a bit crap nonethe­less.

We let them out in the big wide world, aka the gar­den, to free range. It was like let­ting your chil­dren go out on their own for the first time. We ob­vi­ously had ‘the chat’ about not wan­der­ing too far, mak­ing sure to stick to­gether and to come home at any sign of trou­ble. And, of course, they knew we were nearby in case they got a bit con­cerned and wanted to come back in­doors.

We let Feath­ers and Matilda out first as they had proved them­selves to be the most com­pli­ant (ie well be­haved). The plan was just to let those two out and see how they got on, but their glee­ful strut­ting up and down in front of the run, show­ing off in front of the oth­ers, and the wav­ing of blades of grass in the other hens’ faces through the wire, was a bit much. So, meal­worms in hand, we bit the bul­let and let them all out.

HAPPY

If hens have an idea of Christ­mas (with­out talk­ing to the tur­keys, as their opin­ion would be com­pletely dif­fer­ent), this would be it! They strut­ted and pecked and ran and flapped and ba­si­cally lost con­trol of any dig­nity that they may have had. They ac­tu­ally didn’t have much to start with to be fair – th­ese are birds that are happy to walk though poo and shoot

They strut­ted and pecked and ran and flapped and ba­si­cally lost con­trol of any dig­nity that they may have had.

rocket poos at ran­dom, re­mem­ber.

I’m not­ing that hens are very afraid of miss­ing out. When one looks as though it has found some­thing in­ter­est­ing, the oth­ers all feel the need to gather round to have a look. And then dis­cuss it be­tween them. At length. Un­til some­one else finds some­thing, and then, of course, that is far more in­ter­est­ing.

Tony and I watched our girls as they mooched around the gar­den, chat­ting amongst them­selves and giv­ing the oc­ca­sional squawk, just in case we had for­got­ten they were there. Or in case the neigh­bours were con­cerned that they hadn’t heard any un­nec­es­sary cluck­ing for a while.

Then it was time to put them back. The vi­sions of us chas­ing them around the gar­den like a Benny Hill sketch came to mind. But, bless them, a few meal­worms chucked on the floor of their run and they were run­ning back in faster than the chicken equiv­a­lent of Usain Bolt.

Be­ing a chicken mum is stress­ful.

ABOVE: Vikki Smith and Tony Draisey with their birds

BE­LOW: En­joy­ing the fresh air out on the lawn

TOP: Some of Vikki’s girls free rang­ing ABOVE RIGHT: It’s nice out here...

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