Ever since I trapped and relocated a feral cat (see post 12/9/2015) which I believe killed one hen and mauled another, confidence has returned – to the flock and me. They now are truly free roaming – after the coop door opens in the morning and they spend awhile in the paddocks, I release them to roam the yard. First stop for them is below the deck to gather seed scattered from the bird feeder, then a visit to the compost heaps and then hang out in the woodland area.
Except today with temps above freezing for the first time in a week, when the rooster and 7 hens pressed on beyond the compost heaps and the vegetable growing area (from which they are fenced out) to the orchard. I had composted and thickly mulched all the fruit trees and they visited almost all the trees scattering the mulch and swallowing down worms and, I hope, slumbering fruit tree pests.
Great for my organic growing efforts and great for their diet. One caveat – I leave the door open alert for a distress call from the rooster. But the yard is fenced in and just up the road a neighbor’s flock of hens peck along the road and visit various yards and so far appear unscathed. So maybe too will be mine.