Some people chase dreams. Children chase each other on the playground. Dogs chase cars. I chase chickens! Yesterday, I let the entire flock free range for about an hour. When it was time to return the chickens to their home, I coaxed them in with veggies and scratch. However, two of the new silkies would not come inside. I tried everything. I tried to entice them with all sorts of goodies. I spoke to them gently. I even tried to speak chicken! Nothing was working.
The chickens had not free ranged in a while since there was so much snow on the ground. The older flock free ranges all the time without any problems. I wanted to be fair to the new additions, so I felt that they too should be able to enjoy free ranging. In the beginning of December, I had let the entire flock out. During that time, it was difficult to get the newer birds back in the coop, but I managed after about 5 minutes to catch them. You see, my original flock is so docile, that I can just walk up to them and pick them up. Even if they are reluctant to go in, they are never reluctant to be held and loved. I am not used to skittish chickens.
Getting back to yesterday, there the two bird brains stood in the thicker underbrush of the woods near their coop. I crawled on my knees. I tried to throw towels on top of them. I even brought in reinforcement from my mother and my three year old. Finally, after 3 long hours of chasing chickens, I caught them. One I caught in the rhododendron bush and the other I caught climbing up the wire on the run. Once caught, I held them. I gave them a nice snack for positive reinforcement and then I put them back into their run.
I felt defeated. After relaying this story to some friends, they were laughing and telling me that they wish they had a video camera set up. I’m sure if it had been a weekend, my neighbors would have thoroughly enjoyed watching my antics all over the yard! The next time the chickens free range, I will not be letting out the two escape artists. Instead, I have decided that in the spring, I will let the entire flock out about a half hour before sundown. Leaving every door open, I hope that their instincts will tell them to go into the coop and roost at bedtime. Yesterday I learned the hard way; never chase a chicken.