When we first moved into our new house the chickens had free range of the yard. Their only barrier was the chain link fence that ran the length of the left side of our yard. Over the last year we have started fencing in the back yard to contain the animals. (And by “we” I really mean The Husband.) If you remember, The Husband had done extensive research about fencing and ended up picking up some flexible fencing rolls that we ran the back and right side length of the yard. You can read about it in my post “Putting Up a Fence.” We also used this fencing to enclose our vegetable garden to keep the chickens out.
For the better part of the summer this fencing did its job to keep the chickens inside our yard. Peepers was the only exception, and she doesn’t let a little thing like fencing keep her from finding some remote spot to lay her eggs. On the plus side, she only got out long enough to lay her egg and then came back into the yard to announce her awesome reproductive abilities. The fence didn’t do much of anything to keep the chickens out of the garden. You can read more about that later.
Anyway, about 3 months ago, Pink decided our yard was too small for him so he started finding ways to escape. At first, it was only one day here and there and usually he didn’t go out of our yard. Then it started happening more frequently and he started wandering further out. Each time he escaped he would take with him 2-5 hens. Eventually, he and his groupees were taking daily trips out of the yard and had essentially taken over the yards of our neighbors on each side of us.
We spent time rounding the chickens up and bringing them back to our yard, but it kinda became a 20 minute ordeal every 10-15 minutes. And Pink was NOT a fan of being emasculated by me when I would catch him and give him snuggles before I gingerly threw him back into our yard.
My right side neighbor had no problem with the birds being over there doing their pest control. The left side neighbor, however… well, they called animal control on us. Damn.
The Husband has had a pretty severely hurt back lately so the work that needed to be done to contain the birds had to be put on hold. In the meantime we cooped the lot of them until we could figure out what to do.
So, a week and a half ago, The Husband had a little respite from his back pain and was well enough to do something about the chickens. It took him several hours but he expanded the pen extention outside of the coop by a couple of feet and then created a chicken run about 50 feet along the right side of the back yard.
We still let Thing One out of the coop and occasionally we let Harriet out as well. Even with full range of the yard they pretty much stick close to the coop and the other birds. Since the hens are all pretty much cooped I no longer have to search for eggs. And other than SoJo and Mary Eve, our youngest two hens, everyone else seems fairly content with the space they have.
SoJo and Mary Eve make regular escape attempts when I go in to get eggs or let Thing One out of the coop. They were Pink’s most faithful groupees on the neighborhood outings and as the youngest they are at the bottom of the pecking order so it’s understandable that they long for their freedom. On the other hand, as Pink’s most faithful groupees they are kinda one of the main reasons they are in this boat. Chicken Jail. I guess I’m lacking sympathy.
I miss the birds running around in the yard and getting the chance to grab one up and snuggle a little. With them in their coop and pen I don’t have much opportunity for that. I don’t miss Pink’s repeated attempts to flog me because apparently he thinks I have ugly legs (he only tried when I was bare legged.) I don’t miss the bird poop all over the yard. And maybe this summer with the birds all in jail… maybe my garden has a chance?