Five chicks go (mostly) free-range
During their first summer, we want new chicks to learn how to forage and find their way around our property, but we feel a little apprehension about how they’ll adapt. So far, this has always gone more smoothly than we imagine. We’ve found that it’s important to give them a safe indoor refuge, and the studio building works great as long as one or both of us spends a lot of time there during the day. I installed a chicken entrance in our old wooden screen door:
It has a sliding plywood insert to keep out adult chickens during the transition:
On the inside we added polar fleece curtains to keep out bugs, once the chicks are familiar with the entrance. Under the little grape arbor in front of the studio, there’s plenty of tall grass and weeds, plus dirt for scratching. The chicks are doing a lot of “gardening” there:
They also forage and explore in the grass and weeds under nearby trees, but they’re fortunately cautious about open spaces and other potentially dangerous situations. They never range so far that they can’t sprint and fly back to the studio door in a few seconds. After a vigorous outdoor session, they’re ready to come inside for a meal, a preening session, and a nap.
On their first day in the studio, it didn’t take them more than an hour to figure out that the best sleeping spot is an office chair that Naomi covers with towels:
They move around, looking for the best position, stepping on each other, and squealing when they’re stepped on, than these photos suggest, but sometimes the scene is peaceful: