I don't know about you, but this weekend we had a lovely sunny (if a little chilly) Saturday - perfect for doing all sorts of jobs in the garden. As the hens currently have no greenery in their run we made a little door in the side of the mesh and let them loose to free-range for the morning.
Pepper, in her wisdom and boldness, decided that pecking at everything that came her way was a plan - whether it be wire cutters as we created a door, or the string we used to lace it back up again. Clearly poking edible things through the bars of their run has been bad training!
Once the door was open they needed no persuasion at all. Off they went across the lawn to sample the delights of fresh grass, leaves, berries, dropped bird food and any thing else they could find. They supervised Joe turning the compost heap and tried to sneak a nibble on the new vegetable shoots while he wasn't looking.
Fizzy particularly enjoyed the autumn berries left on a few shrubs round the garden. We were worried that they might not do her any good, and kept trying to persuade her away from them, but she is a determined little hen. We even pruned away all the branches at pecking height, but she was still jumping to reach berries on higher branches. We still seem to have four healthy chickens however, so perhaps she knew what she was doing. I certainly shan't worry so much next time.
(A few pictures of the dust bath - but I'm afraid its hard to capture anything more than "bundle of feathers" in such scenarios!)
Their favourite pastime during the course of the morning was a dust bath. After months of wallowing in mud they found themselves a nice dry dusty piece of earth under our large hedge and dug themselves in for about an hour. Well, Pepper, Lemon and Frog did anyway, Fizzy mostly seemed to hover nervously round the edge and watch the other three bathe themselves. Since Pepper and Frog have started laying they have gained in confidence - and in pecking order position. Poor Fizzy has been seriously demoted and no longer pushes her way to the front of every queue. I'm sure she'll be back to herself when she starts laying eggs of her own though.