This morning I decided that our chickens will be free range. After all, what is the point of harping on about animal welfare and then locking up your own hens in an area the size of a postage stamp?
Having lost my last two hens to a fox I have invested in an electric fence and the girls (including a cockerel with a small man syndrome) are closely guarded.
But today is the day. Here we come – the gate opens – I turn off the power – and they are off! Three ecstatic hens and their man literally take the garden by storm. They run around like mad from one tasty looking morsel to another. And clucking. I love the sound of a happy chicken.
After a few hours holes start appearing in our lawn. The tiny seedlings of spinach in the vegetable patch have been seriously thinned. Loosened grass I flying in the wind. For the third time I catch the neighbours’ cat and return him over the gate. I am so exhausted from walking from one window to another (they have a habit of hiding out of the view) that I decide to get them back in. In orderly fashion if possible.
I grab the noisiest plastic bowl with the chicken grit in it and start an amazing percussion performance. I shake the bowl, call them so loudly so that people walking past the fence start replying and suddenly they are on the move. The White first, followed by the Cockerel. The Brown and the Grey are staring at me from the other side of the fence. They they turn around and walk off.
It only takes half an hour in the end and I have lost my voice but boy didn’t they enjoy wrecking the garden!