The chickens are now officially Free Range Chickens. They wander here and there, under bushes, across the grass, out into Maggie's Wood, down the driveway (Beware! That way there be dragons!). I sometimes catch them going on tip-toe through the front terraced spaces. I won't call those gardens yet; they still have to prove themselves. So far so good. The chickens don't know what to make of the terraces since there is no grass there and very few plants. They walk around, turning a sideways eye to this and that and then walk out, shaking their little feathered heads and muttering.
Much to their chagrin they have been fenced out of the shade garden with the Hostas and Bleeding Heart plants. That is every chicken's favorite spot because it is cool and full of yummy little bugs. It is now and forever off limits to all chickens. (They tear it to bits and then roll in the dirt. What do they think it is, a spa?)
This evening I came home and discovered American Ninja Warrior on TV, followed by the Olympic trials for platform diving. YES! I love diving. By the time I looked up from the trials it was dark thirty and I realized I had not shut the chicken house door. Donning my head lamp I wandered that way, scolded the spider under the arch for trying to 'web me' (she so knows better) I noticed the coop door was already shut, but not latched. That meant the chickens had already gone to roost somewhere outside and I now had to find them. Chicken Hide-n-seek, my favorite.
Most of them were sleeping in the Lilac bush, some on the branches, some wedged down in the middle and some snuggled into the dust at the bottom. (Ladies, that is not a safe place. You have to more creative or you will become Raccoon supper.) I picked them all up and tossed them into the coop where they wandered around aimlessly in a sleepy stupor. I did a quick head count and came up short. I was missing two Marys and two Buffs. I wandered and looked, finding them at last roosting in the Silver Maple. They might have been safe enough up there, but I doubt it. Those were knocked down and herded indoors with the others. I never cease to find that chicken-sleeping-daze hilarious. You can pick them right up and carry them around. They may squawk just a little but they don't fight.
So, all is well. The Buffs are nearly full grown and bigger than the Mary's. The Barred Rocks and the two Black Sex-linked girls are still a lot smaller. Those five were bought a full two weeks after the first set of five. The bigger ones have never picked on them but they are not recognized as part of the flock.
When chickens are out and about they continually make noises back and forth to each other, so they always know where everyone is. If one of them moves away from the others they call her back. Not so with the Barred Rocks. If they wander away and get lost in the undergrowth (it happens a lot, surprisingly) the other hens won't call to or answer them so they can find their way back. Sometimes I have to head the the little lost lambs in the right direction until they can actually see the others. Weird. They live in the same house for heaven's sake. They eat out of the same feeders, and always have. It doesn't matter. They are not family, according to the Mary's and the three of the bigger Buffs. There is one Buff that was bought at the same time as the Rocks. She is out of the shrine too, despite the fact that she looks exactly like the others. This isn't racism, it is something else
Little do those snooty Marys know that once the Barred Rocks reach their full size and weight they will be the biggest girls in the coop, and the others had better watch out! Rocks remember.