Did you know chickens purred? Well, I had heard they make quite a few noises, but I really didn't believe it until I heard it myself. After I close up the Eglu door at night, I usually pop open the egg hatch door to do a "head count" and make sure all 3 chooks are accounted for. Tonight when I did this I saw Maisy and Betty nestled up next to each other near the hatch door, and Betty was purring. Yes, that's right, she was making the cutest little purring noises!
I was also disturbed to see that Selma appeard to be roosting in the nesting box. This is the first time I've noticed this behavior, and it is not usually encouraged. I'll keep an eye on her and make sure she doen't make a habit of it.
I must say, the ladies are full of surprises these days. I've been letting them roam the yard even when I'm not home and all seemed to be going well…until today. I started doing this about a week ago because it seems to be keeping them happy, and there don't seem to be any dangers during the day. A couple weeks ago when I had to go to the office every day, I found that hens were getting very disturbed from so many days confined to their run. One day I came home late to find that there were 2 soft eggs laid in the run. Then the next day I got home about 30 minutes before dark, so I let them out to roam for a short while. Maisy stopped at a certain point during her perambulations, squatted down, and laid a soft egg right there in the yard!
Usually the girls are very good about laying in the nest box. I figured if they were engaging in such odd behavior it was because they were stressed from being confined to the run for so many days. The days are getting so short now that it is nearly dark by 6:30 PM. If I'm lucky, I can be home by 6, but that is not much time for the chooks to roam. So last week I decided to open the run door in the AM even on the days I went to the office, and then shut them up after dark.
As I said, this seemed to be working OK until today. In the early afternoon, I took a break from work to run to the grocery store. When I returned, I unloaded the bags from the car and carried them to the back porch. (Here in Chicago, it is typical for the garage and the house to be unattached, hence all this juggling of stuff from one point to another to another.) Then I closed up the garage and was preparing to open the back door and carry the bags into the house. Then I heard my name being called.
I turned towards the sound, and as I did I saw something funny out of the corner of my eye. It was my neighbor 2 doors over pointing out that my chickens were…perched on the fence next to the driveway. Yep, I had seen that as I turned, but wasn't quite sure if I was seeing it right. There were Betty AND Selma perched on top of the fence looking at me expectantly. My neighbor asked if I thought they would try to get away. I said no, it looked more like they expected me to give them a treat. Then I marched over and shooed them off the fence. Only to have them fly right back up! I shooed them off again. Selma flew up one more time. After a third wave off the fence, she seemed to get the idea. I kept peeking out the window at them this afternoon, but didn't see any more chickens perching in dangerous places.
This does worry me, though. I have to either keep the chickens in their run this week, or have faith that they won't fly up onto the fence while I'm not here. I have a very demanding week at work (seems like I keep saying that lately!) and need to be in the office every day. The girls have been laying very well since I've been allowing them to roam every day, and I'd prefer not to mess with that. Would clipping their wings help in this situation?