Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home on the Range

Today I also let the chickens and guineas out of their pen for their first official taste of "free ranging." They did not sprint out immediately, but within 8 minutes or so, they were all outside, yet staying close to the pen. About 20 minutes later they went back in, then they wandered out again and proceeded to circle the run and coop. Several times. Eventually, they wandered farther afield, occasionally one would become interested in something and not realize it was alone for several seconds. Then it would make a mad dash back to its buddies. The guineas would call very loudly if one got separated, too. They also test nibbled every piece of greenery within the reach of their short little necks.

I never realized watching chickens could be so restful. Hal and I spent quite a long time sitting on our lounge chairs, sipping ice water (the day was hot and humid) and making jokes about their antics.Apparently, they have come to recognize me as provider of FOOD because when I got out of my chair and walked away, they followed. In fact when I raced down to the pond to rescue the poor male duckling they chased me across the front lawn, through the balsam firs lining the driveway and would have run into the driveway if Hal hadn't closed the gate. It didn't bother them at all that Luna was laying under the trees staying cool.

Luna was a very good girl the entire time the birds were outside. I don't know whether the weather had anything to do with her lethargy but she pretty much ignored them. After the first 20 minutes I took her off the leash. But I played it safe when I went into the house and rounded up the last 3 birds (the other 4 were already back inside) and locked the coop gate. Next I have to see how Rocket reacts. He spent the day at Uncle Butch's which made it easier on me, testing only one dog at a time. I remember him drooling constantly over the first ducklings he ever saw last year. He ignores the ducks now, hopefully he'll ignore the chickens and guineas.

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