The Chicken Emperor decided to do some work around the chicken yard yesterday afternoon, so we let the girls out of their pen for a supervised free-range session in the larger dog run area. This would be akin to telling me I could have a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman and then throwing in Saks and Harry Winston just to sweeten the deal. You see, the girls have pretty thoroughly de-bugged their pen, so industrious are they at pecking anything that moves. When we opened the gate, they realized the great outer outdoors is virtually teeming with little jewels of six-legged morsels and went straight to work.
After seeing how much they enjoyed this outing, we realized that we’ll probably be able to close off our small orchard for future field trips. Between their systematic pest control and the superior fertilizer produced by their droppings, we’ll benefit from turning them loose as much as possible. Chicken manure contains more nitrogen, acid and potash than any other animal droppings and is therefore sought after by gardeners. Their penchant for eating ticks and other nasty bugs makes me long to let them free-range the entire property, but there are concerns over predators. If the girls grow increasingly tame – they actually rush me at the gate now when they see me come – we might be able to take “walks” under the oaks where they can nab ticks to their hearts’ content.
In the meantime, they continue to enjoy meal worms, which are my go-to enticement for convincing them to come back into the coop in the evening. Last night, courtesy of Polla Amiga, there was an extra special treat – another container of wheat grass, which may as well be labeled “Chicken Crack”. I’ve never seen Amelia move her thunderous feathered thighs as fast as she did last night in pursuit of the wheat grass. Kind of like Bergdorf, Saks, Tiffany AND Dairy Queen (can I just say how much I love and long for Dairy Queen!!) rolled into one .
The only way to possibly top meal worms and wheat grass would be to pour a bag of playground sand in the pen, which is exactly what we did this morning. Now that the chickens are full-time in the coop, we removed the small box of sand that was in their brooder, so they were thrilled to see a sandbox appear in the pen.
Hope your day was as wonderful as theirs!