In one of the many chicken books or articles I read, I thought I read that chickens will not stray very far from their coop; that chickens could even become disoriented and get lost if you moved their coop to a new site, and did not keep them penned near the coop for a few days to become accustomed to the new location. I can remember thinking that our yard would be perfect, as the thick undergrowth and hedges between us and our neighbors would keep them home. Well, I guess my chickens are born (hatched?) explorers, because they have taken to free ranging with a passion.
The first week or so, the girls were skittish and didn't stray to far from the coop, rarely approaching the deck. No more. Oh, no, my chickens are now wandering behind the freestanding deck, scratching through the lilac hedge, and popping over to neighbor Jim's for a look-see. This morning, they went marching down the driveway, and I had to run out and shoo them back into the yard.
Fortunately, at a tag sale last weekend, we bought two rolls of wire mesh fencing, (23' &16'), so today, we set up the fencing, arduously threading the long piece through the lilac hedge, and the other section behind the perennial bed between us and neighbor Mike. Not to be deterred, the girls just wandered up to the arborvitae hedge and scuttled through, back onto Jim's lawn. I shooed them back. Ten minutes later, I shooed them back again, this time all the way back to their run. They nonchalantly wandered in for a drink, and I swung the door shut for the afternoon. Clearly, additional fencing will be needed.
Late this afternoon, we (foolishly) decided to free the girls again while we were outside pouring a concrete pedestal for a friend. In a flash the fiends were off to neighbor Mike's, around the far end of the new fence, threading their way underneath the beach plum. Dan and I both chased them back to the garden area, where they promptly hopped into the compost bins and settled in, blithely scratching away, settling onto the bin edge as though they'd been there all day.