Free-Ranging

May
3

And they’re out!
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For a full year, these chickens have been confined to their chicken house and chicken yard. A year of hard time, breaking rocks, and longing to be free.

Okay, I don’t think they broke any rocks.

They did break a couple eggs one time.
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They couldn’t believe the door to the chicken house was propped open. They were sure someone had made a mistake.

They hesitantly poked their heads out, then started popping from the chicken house. One, then two, then three, then all.

Well, Mean Rooster hung back a bit.
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He was thinking about the change this was going to make in his life. How he’d ruled their chicken cell block and how he’d lose control of his minions. A dark overlord without a dark realm.

He finally gave in to the inevitable loss of power and came into the light.
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Plan B: Take over the world!
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Mean Rooster wasn’t actually the last bird out of the chicken house.

That would be my timid ducks.
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They had to be coaxed out. And kinda pushed.

The merry band of chickens stuck together, pecking and exploring.
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Everyone in the goat yard was excited about the new visitors at the fenceline.
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The ducks, released from their chicken tyranny, headed for the hills to stake out their own territory. (They have yet to discover the pond.)
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At night, they all come home to sleep in their chicken house again, tempted within by their comfy roost and their feed and the promise of safety. Free-ranging does put them at some risk (thus the mass addition of over 30 new chicks this spring), but it also provides them a natural diet in addition to their feed and the opportunity to get out in the fresh grass, out of the endless mud of the chicken yard. Healthier chickens, better eggs.

The big chicks have the chicken yard all to themselves.
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The little chicks are in the brooder (under the red heat lamp).
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The ducklings have their own, separate, brooder.
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Some day, yes, some day, they will all be together. When they’re all grown up and ready for the wide open world our big chickens are just beginning to know.

Maybe, even maybe, some day they will be in the road.
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Or, you know, at least my driveway.

Comments

  1. Ms E says:

    I bet they’ll check out your porch and your vehicles on their journey to hanging out in the road! Will you ever add any Silkies to your flock? They’re so darn cute!

  2. margiesbooboo says:

    hmm i don’t see any turkeys or guinne(sp) yet, where be they?

    huggs,
    margiesboo

    ps i’m gonna be running around wv in 2 weeks! woohoo!

  3. sunnid755 says:

    Oh the excitement on the farm, I can just hear the talk now!! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Patty says:

    Oh I’m so happy to see the chickens are free, but even moreso the ducks! It’s so exciting to know they can get away from the chickens and will soon find that they have a pond. I can’t wait to see the post with the pictures of them swimming around. Yay! :woof:

  5. Heidi says:

    You are lucky gal to be able to live in the place you do… perfect for chickens to run free~

  6. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    And then there were chickens…..

    I’d love to hear the gossip in the hen yard now! And how will Mean Rooster ever keep them down on the farm again? :chicken: :chicken:

  7. shirley says:

    Today would be a good day for the ducks to discover their pond. It rained all night.

  8. Bee says:

    I want to live there! The closest I come now is my facebook farm.

    I just knew they’d be in the road at the end of this. But they are close, aren’t they?!

  9. CindyP says:

    One step closer to your dream, how wonderful is that? :chicken: All you needed was MORE chickens! It’s just amazing with all that open land, they still come “home” at night!

    Oh I hope the ducks discover their pond! :duck: Ducks speckled on the pond…….sigh. Soon you’ll have speckled flocks (ducks, chickens, sheep) all over your farm! How wonderful that will be!

    And the fruit trees!! All those wonderful jams/jellies to be made right from your own yard!!

  10. Myrna Mackenzie says:

    Suzanne, fruit trees? How wonderful! I only have room for one, a Montmorency cherry tree (the cherries are sour, but they make heavenly pies and the tree is self-pollinating). You’re going to have so much fun when they finally start producing fruit.

  11. MissyinWV says:

    This was a full circle moment! Your dreams are coming true!!! Congratulations! :heart:

  12. monica says:

    :wave: Little N. just loves your stories and pictures! He is in 4H this year, and we might enter our chickens at the fair in open class. You sound so completely at peace and happy. I want that for our family some day. :yes:

  13. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Yeah, they’ll never get to the road, but don’t change the name to “Chickens in the Driveway”. Nowhere near the same ring to THAT for a title. :sun:

    Honestly, free ranging is a great reason to keep Mean Rooster around, he may be plenty rotten to you, but he’ll be even meaner to anything that tries to hurt his girls. Meaner and more alert so he’ll see danger coming and give the rooster equivalent of *danger! danger! danger!* when he sees a hawk’s shadow or something creeping through the tall grass towards them. :chicken:

  14. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Good morning Suzanne! I love to let my chickens and guineas free range, and I too, put them up at night. I notice that their eggs are larger and the yolks are that rich yellow color when they free range. What about your ducks? Once ours found the pond, I couldn’t get them to come to the roost any longer and inevitably the coyotes got them one by one. I had a floating duck house in the pond but that didn’t seem to do the trick. I would love to get more ducks but I’ll have to build them a chicken yard (or duck yard in this case).

  15. Christine says:

    I had to laugh, poor Mean Rooster. My Blackbeard has lost control of his ladies, too. He actually seems frazzled. :lol:

  16. Mim says:

    We had ducks when we were growing up. They acted more like a dog, they came when called and when we told them bedtime, they went to the gate and waited to be let in.Then they would go into their house and we would close their door. One duck would also chase cars. But my Dad loved their eggs. So we had “pet” ducks for a long time. :ladybug:

  17. MJ Krech says:

    Good job! I wish I lived close enough to buy eggs from you! :heart:

  18. Beth C says:

    I absolutely LOVE it! I’ve been reading a long time viz RSS feed, and it’s about darned time that I start telling you how I feel :yes:

    My hubster keeps saying ~no~ to all manner of animal life. Something about taking care of them all the time. Might be related to all that concrete surrounding us, though.

    Enjoy! :chicken:

  19. Susan says:

    How they have grown! :sun:

  20. Ms E says:

    If you like a tart apple jelly, you might find a crab apple tree to be of interest for your orchard. They are very low maintenance.

  21. Estella says:

    Congratulations! Your dream is coming true.

  22. Rose says:

    Chickens pecking around in the grass, what an idyllic idea. Yes – an IDEA! We have chickens and they are in the garden beds, the backyard (leaving chicken poo mines to be discovered by little bare feet), the front yard, the neighbors yard (hey, it is called a BIRD feeder) and yes, even the road. Occassionally, I see the neighbors car slow down and know that is probably because the chickens are in the road. Why did the chicken cross the road? I certainly don’t know, and they sure don’t look like they do! They just go back and forth all day! Meanwhile their HUGE, safe, fenced in pasture sits empty. Darn chickens, but I wouldn’t give them up for anything!!! Little twerps. :chicken:

  23. catslady says:

    I wish them all well :duck: :chicken:

  24. shirley says:

    Whatever became of Spartacus?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      I still have Spartacus! There’s not a good, clear picture of him in this post, though. He’s in the “pack” of chickens in a couple of the photos. (He’s the littlest rooster.) I’ll post a good pic of him soon.

  25. Teri says:

    You are going to have so much fun watching the antics of your Rooster when they free range. He will be the contstant “sentitel”. He will call them over when he finds something good to eat and share it with them, he will corral them in at night and bring them in from the rain….Enjoy!

  26. Jane says:

    As to the muddy chicken yard, did you ever think about putting sawdust or straw in the yard..I have seen it done and it could help

  27. Wheezay says:

    Ducklings are some of the cutest things ever !

  28. Sarah Brewer says:

    My chickens range too far and do too much damage to my flower beds if I let them out from dawn till dusk so I let them out every day in the afternoon. This way they still get to eat all kinds of grass and bugs and I get that nice dark orange color in th yolks. Makes me feel like the eggs are healthier eating.

    I made your yellow cake mix today. Only I used half all purpose flour and half whole wheat. I mixed in a bunch of fresh frozen blueberries and made them into muffins. Served warm with butter and jam. Yum. 24 muffins already gone! Love the recipee so did my kids. Thanks! :woof:

  29. LuLu says:

    Bonjour!

    I have been following your blog for a while now but never seem to find the time to leave comments due to slow-speed internet. Well, this morning, I added a little gizmo to my laptop that permits me to grab wifi from a distance so I am doing better speed-wise. We do have a similar life and I just love your animal stories. My 8 chicken and one rooster have a full free-range life and I just love seeing them all around the place, happy and healthy. I have a question for you: Do you ever have chicken that have dirty butts? And I do mean dirty. It happens to mine once in a while, they seem to have diarrhea or very runny poop. It makes them weaker and last year I lost one of my best hens due to that. Do you know what causes this condition? Do you know the cure to it? Some say it is caused by worms in their intestines, which they get because they will eat just about anything they will find on their path. Do you give your chicken vitamins? I could use any help possible! Come for a visit when you have a minute! Take care and long life to your blog! Take care, LuLu

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Hi, LuLu! I haven’t had any experience with that. We don’t use dewormers or vitamins other than using the chick starter when they’re little and layer feed when they’re older, so nothing other than whatever may be in the feeds. (Not sure there is anything in there.)

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