Our hens used to free range all the time but I got heartily sick of hunting for eggs all over the property (and mostly not finding any).
Now they reside in a very large fenced area for most of the day until mid to late afternoon when I let them out so they may roam the property to their hearts content.
They obviously love fossicking for bugs etc in the paddocks and woodland areas that are available to them and of course the greenery is an essential part of their diet.
This means they need to be shut in come dusk when they have wandered back to the hen house and jostled and argued about where on the roosts they are going to sleep that night.
I try and get down to the hen paddock at dusk as it’s such a fabulous time of the day but often I get distracted with dinner or homework or household stuff. Dusk creeps past me and then it’s dark so I race down and back with a torch as fast as I can.
Tonight I set off well before dusk with my camera and a small white dog (always) and took the long way round to the hen paddock.
I was reminded how gorgeous apple blossom is.
There were only seven chickens in the coop – one missing but I soon spotted her waddling down the paddock towards home. Fat Hazel – a bit of a loner and always the slowest but secretly one of my favourites.
Mostly I do it without thinking but sometimes I notice stuff on the way down and back from the paddock.
Those are the good nights.
Those are the nights I smell the country air, hear the birds, see a rabbit, marvel at the unfolding night sky.
I wish I was that mindful every night, I really do.
I’m going to try harder.