3 May 2014
The chickens have grown noticeably in the last week, their combs starting to appear out of a red ridge in the top of their heads, their bodies plumping up, their bewilderment gone. They muscle their way out the coop door whenever it’s opened, and it’s time to give them more room to run. After a frenzy of internet searches to try to match the electric mesh fence and the solar power energizer, not bought as a kit but separately, we decide that the recommendation for our fence is an energizer of .8 joules, and the power produced by our actual energizer is about a quarter of that. It seems safe to put them together, with no danger of fried chook.
We put the fence up easily, enclosing a surprisingly large area of grass, and the coop door is ceremoniously opened. The chooks run out, run around their house, and run back in. Then they run out again, peck at the grass, venture a metre from their house, and run back in. They keep this up for some time, moving a little further away from the safety of their house with each foray. They’re a few metres away when something spooks them and they take to the air, flying and flapping back to the coop. But finally they make the break, and they’re strolling around their majestic yard, heads held high, clustered like children in a three-legged race, falling over each other to peck at the same moth.
A fierce wind sprang up during the night, buffeting us with icy gusts all day. It died down while we were constructing the fence, but by late afternoon with the sun setting, the temperature drops again. I go up to the coop to put the chooks away, but they’re already making for shelter, running up the ramp to the sleeping area. I checked on them last night, listening to their sleepy chirps, and lifted the lid to find them huddled together in a corner of the nesting box. Maybe they’ll learn to sleep on the perches when they’re grown-ups.