Wednesday, June 15, 2016
A little while ago, I started losing some of my Silkies to hawks. In all the years I've owned chickens, this was the first time it had happened. After crying over my loses, and cursing the animal that had caused the deaths, all the Silkies were moved into smaller, full enclosed pens. These pens are called chicken tractors, and are movable. I normally use them to raise chicks in.
Now, having to move the chicken tractors around every couple of days has been a little annoying. And it was obviously very disheartening to lose some of my chickens. But some good has come out of it too. With the size of the pens being small, I like to let the Silkies out for a good forage every day.
Sitting watching them is relaxing and reminds me of when we used to take the time to sit and gaze at the chickens. It's not something I've done for a little while, as there are always other jobs to do. But with the recent hawk attacks, I can't leave the Silkies out in the open unattended. I take my Collies with me, with Rilla being especially good at sighting and chasing birds on command. This came in handy one day as a hawk was eyeing off my free ranging chickens and paying absolutely no attention to me. Rilla frightened it off though, so I never let them out without her.
Free ranging the Silkies is part of the daily routine now. Every morning I open each door and the chickens come eagerly running out. I save their breakfast to use to get them away again, and aside from that they also don't forage as well if their crops are already half full.
The young group flap and stretch their wings, squawking at each other as they dance around. Some of the hens get to dust-bathing, others pluck at the grass and scratch around for bugs. The rooster pairs off with his favourite hen, and they amble around side-by-side, chortling to each other as they hunt of nests, forage and feed each other.
The youngest group has just reached an age where they can be let out too, although getting them back into their tractor can take a little time. Silkies take a while to train.
It's such a lovely job to do every day, and one I wasn't making the time for until I was forced to. It's easy to get caught up in all the jobs that need doing, and shift priorities around. And it is true - sometimes something has to give. But with this new daily job being slotted in, surprisingly it hasn't affected other things getting done. It's a peaceful way to spend an hour or so, it's good for the chickens health and just as good for my soul.
It's chicken therapy, and it's a lovely way to start the day.
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