Our chickens generally are awake and down in their run even before it's really daylight out, so I was surprised yesterday morning when I glanced out the kitchen window and didn't see any of them digging around in their run, which is where they spend pretty much all day. I figured they were up in the coop eating or something and thought nothing of it.
When I came back home from dropping the kids off at school and going for a walk, it was the same thing. No visible chickens. Strange. I figured there was a reasonable excuse for their absence, but went out to check on them all the same. Plus I had some food waste for them.
In our house I always exclaim with delight how our three chickens turn our garbage into eggs. What other kind of pet does that? In any case, I figured they'd jump down the ramp as soon as they heard the back door open, which is what they usually do. But still, no chickens.
As I was walking down the stairs they all starting piling down in the run. Phew. I realized that I hadn't even bothered to check for eggs the day before so I think they were all in there nesting on the eggs, trying to hatch them or something. Because there were eggs out there and they were warm.
When we first got the chickens I would diligently go out there every morning, let down the ramp, clean the run and the coop and get them set up for the day. But, then again, the weather back in September was warm and it was light out that early. Over the months I started cleaning less frequently and, since the run is completely enclosed, figured I'd just leave the ramp permanently down so they could come and go as they pleased. I rethought how often I cleaned the coop and it's pretty much down to every other week. I still go out there just about every day to give them some scraps and check for eggs. Well, except for the day before yesterday. Fortunately, the air temperature is about refrigerator levels so it's not that big a deal.
I've become a less anal chicken keeper and they don't seem to care just as long as they get their dandelion treats, which they will pass over everything else in order to eat. I call the dandelions I dig up with our weed extractor chicken toys because they spend hours nibbling on them and flinging them around the run. I have to make sure I give them at least three or more so they don't steal them from each other. They are quite silly about it - I figured they'd prefer the bread or pasta but, no. Their most favorite food in the whole world is dandelions. And, it's a good thing for all of us because we have a shitload of them in our lawn. It's a symbiotic thing we got going on over here.