free range time

Each afternoon, we give our chickens a chance to free range.

They get about 90 minutes of freedom, before dark.

That’s enough time for them to eat a few bugs and enjoy themselves, but not so much that they become a nuisance to the neighbors or become a target for hawks or big, loose dogs.

They love it.

And I love it.

It always makes me laugh.

First, they run for the hydrangea bush beside our back door. We throw vegetable scraps into the bush and, when they get loose, they race to see what treast await them.

After about five minutes there, they suddenly — all at once — get the idea to run and fly across the yard and into my neighbor’s yard. He sometimes leaves them a treat.

It’s hilarious — and what makes it funny is the way they take off, so fast and in a pack, running to get to where they want to go. Once there, they either get the treat or hunt and peck for bugs.

Today, they somehow had a sense that my neighbor was out of town. Instead they raced around to the front yard and spent time there.

This video shows first twenty seconds of their freedom, just after I open the door of the henhouse.

Is a mundane blog about breakfast really just a mundane blog about breakfast? Yeah.

Okay — about six months ago, we got chickens. Six very cute hens that lay eggs for our breakfast and run around the yard in the afternoons.

I had a fear (what else is new?) that the dog and chickens can’t be friends. I was wrong. They play and have lots of fun together.

It’s not like I live on a farm. These are urban chickens.

And I’ve had fresh eggs for breakfast every day.

I won’t say that I’ve mastered omelette making, but I’m getting there. Nor have I mastered the frying of an egg over light with Pam spray without it ever breaking — but I do okay.

One of big treats growing up was when Mom made scrambled eggs with salami. So yesterday I got some salami and revisited my past, scambling eggs with salami. It wasn’t quite as good as Mom’s. I think she might have used real butter in addition to the grease that’s already in the salami (there was no talk of cholesterol back then). But it was a pretty  great breakfast.

This morning, we had no bread in the house. That’s a good thing. Bread is my weakness. Every time I take action to lose weight, no matter what system I use, it always amounts to the same thing: I love bread and eat way too much of it.

I reacted to our bread shortage by going on a bit of a search through the kitchen cabinets. I noticed, in our cupboard, two large containers of oats — leftover from the days before we got the chickens. All these months with daily eggs has given me a one-dimensional view of breakfast.

Can oats sit around for six months and still be okay?

Absolutely!

This reminded me of my father. He loved oatmeal and I have a childhood memory of him teaching me how to fix it.

Oats are filling — perfect if you’re hungry. Just a smattering in the bottom of the pot renders a huge bowl once cooked.

So today was a departure. Maybe we’ll have eggs and salami for dinner…

the big experiment

We’ve had our chickens for six months, and we’ve had our dog, Jackie Mudpie, for seven years.

Each afternoon, we let the chickens free range for about 90 minutes, before dark — and we keep Jackie inside.

So today, in order to clean and move the hen house, we created an experiment.

We braced ourselves for a possible dog-chicken attack, and let them be together.

The results are in and they are conclusive.

Not only should the farmer and the cowman be friends; so should the chickens and the doggie.

Omelette? Fried? Scrambled? Hole-in-One?

Yesterday, I’m stepping out of my office, which is a converted garage attached to my house, and I notice that all six of our chickens are gathered in a pack in the front yard.

So I lower myself to take a picture and they come running — either gathering for the picture or trying to peck my phone.

our chickens
Is she going to peck my camera?

We’ve had these chickens a few months.

It all started a couple of years ago. Randy Solt, owner of Consign 120, used to advertise with our business, Coffee News.

Randy has chickens, and he brings eggs to his store and sells them for $2 a dozen.

And I got hooked on the eggs. Fresh eggs taste better. Randy knew I was hooked — so much so that, when the girls were busy and laying a lot and he had a lot on hand, he would call me up and I’d drive to Concord. For eggs.

Then, one day, I get a call from another Randy, Randy Klocke, owner of Rooster Hill Farms.

Randy Klocke buys an ad in Coffee News for the henpens he sells, and we work out a deal.

The deal includes an ad for Randy and a fully functional henpen for the Post family.  We pick our color — green — and it’s there in a few days, complete with six golden comet chickens and everything required to take care of chickens — including Randy’s thorough, well-written, and entertaining user’s manual.

And every day since, we’re enjoying fresh eggs, every morning, and feeding and watering and talking to the chickens in our yard.

We do not live on a farm. We live in the city, a couple of blocks from Catawba College and only three blocks (easy walking distance) from all kinds of shopping (Food Lion, Walgreens, convenience stores, coffee shops, restaurants).

Our yard is normal size. Neighbors are close.

It’s not Manhattan, but you’d have to say it’s an urban area.

And I love these chickens.

We don’t have a fence, yet.  So we only let them free range for a couple of ours each day, in the late afternoons, for about two hours.

We open the henpen door about six o’clock. When darkness descends, they return to their pen and we shut the door.

In the morning, we gather the eggs.

And then it’s decision time. Omelette?  Fried?  Scrambled? Or, when I’m in the mood for something really tasty, my favorite: the Hole-in-One.