The chickens are very happy with the free-ranging lifestyle, perhaps even a bit too happy --this morning we had to shoo them back into our yard, they had wandered through the lilac hedge into the neighbors' yard.
They are developing a routine. Every morning, shortly after I let them out, they make their way to the compost bins. Even though the fronts of our bins are closed, they fly up onto the bins, then hop down in for some scratching and snacking on whatever tasty morsels I've discarded, or any worms or bugs they find. From there, they do a perimeter sweep, going around the entire yard, venturing into the thickly planted borders of the lawn to see what they can find. They love scratching through the mulch around my newly planted shrubs, or the straw mulch in the vegetable garden.
During the hottest part of the day, they like to hide out in the blackberries. (Not many predators would venture into the blackberries to nab a chicken.) They lay down, wings spread out, cooling off in the shade. At one end of the patch, where we removed a huge rhubarb plant, they have created a spot for dust baths. After it cools a bit, time for more exploring, usually on they shady side of the yard.
Amazingly, every night they put themselves to bed in the coop, given the chance. We have discovered it is much easier to wait until they go in themselves than to try and herd them in -- Iris especially is headstrong and doesn't want to go to bed. Last night we looked out at about 8 pm, and they were all in their pen. By 8:15 they were in the coop roosting, all tuckered out from their day.