I decided around mid morning that today was going to be the day. I reread everything I could find about how old chicks should be before you can free range them with mama hen and I found ages ranging anywhere from 2 days to 8 weeks.
My chicks are almost 6 weeks old and they have a very protective mama so I am sure she will look after them. Time for me to be brave and put my trust in her.
I decided to let them out in the evening so that they are not out for too long before bedtime. Hopefully they can’t get into too much trouble in that short time. Hilda and Helen Hen were bribed with treats and locked in their run before letting the chicks out so that they didn’t pose any threat to the chicks or to mama who will have her hands full while the chicks are out.
I gathered the essentials (camera with zoom lens, treat bribes and a cushion for sitting on the grass) and with a pounding heart, I walked towards the coop. I hesitated as I reached down to turn the catches. What if they all just run off into the bush, never to be seen again. What if one of them gets lost and mama is too busy trying to manage the remaining four and one of the chicks is lost forever? Maybe one of my essentials should be the butterfly net, just in case. No, be brave and put your trust in mama hen.
I reached down and turned the catches and opened the door and stood back. Mama looked quizzically about and then sauntered out of the run, bokk, bokking to the chicks to follow.
They didn’t run off into the bush. They started scratching and pecking the ground outside the coop and it just seemed so right that they were outside. They all stayed near mama and where she went, they went. peeping and chirping as they went.
Then they all thought they heard something that they weren’t so sure about.
And they scurried back to safety. With a few of their favourite treats scattered into the run they all filed happily back inside and I shut the door.