Keeping the Girls Busy

Now that the Garden Tour is over, I’d like to let the hens free-range. On Sunday I opened up the pens. Buffy slowly strolled out and looked about. She enjoyed pecking at the grass and drinking from puddles.

The more active Gems quickly went to work in the amongst the new grape vines. They’ve been eyeing that patch through their fence. Once there, mulch and dirt went flying in their search for bugs.

But, the outing was cut short. While Steve and I were standing in the middle of the yard, chatting and enjoying the antics of the hens, a hawk sped out of the woods, and swooped low over the hens. Hawks are that brazen. It was only fifteen feet above them when my arm waving and screeching, and pell-mell running at it, convinced the raptor to give up on it’s planned chicken lunch.

The hens are back to being confined, but I have a few tricks to keep the girls busy and happy. I have a small birch log in the Big Barn run.

Every few days I move it to a new spot. The ground is damp and buggy where the log was, which keeps the girls busy for quite awhile.

I also have a compost bin in the chicken run. It is a circle, with an opening like the letter C. It’s where I put all of my kitchen scraps and garden weeds. The hens eat much of what is tossed there and what isn’t edible they shred into bits. It’s wormy and an endless source of good things to scratch for.

My wild arm-waving worked once, but that hawk is smart enough to catch on that I’m not exactly fast. So, the girls will be kept safely in their pens. I don’t think they’ll mind. The patch of greens in my vegetable garden bolted this week. The chickens will have a field day with it.


  1. The same thing happened to me – exactly! My arm waving and screeching made the chickens scatter, though, and it was hours before I coaxed the last one back into their yard. Never again!

  2. Too bad about the hawk. I love to watch my girls wander the garden beds. They seem so happy and content just roaming but we don’t have the predators here in the city flying over head. They look to be enjoying that log for sure.

  3. Adore the row of fluffy bottoms and the garden looks great too.

  4. Those hawks are indeed brazen. Especially in winter, I’ll have a redtail swoop in doing reconnaissance on the Shih Tzus. The old shepherd mix and I keep careful watch.

  5. Our rooster knows the difference between the turkey vultures that fly around here every day, and the hawks that make occasional visits. He will sound the alarm when a hawk comes near, but ignores the vultures entirely. I think that’s very interesting. Although we have lots of redtail hawks here, for some reason they don’t roost near our property. And they only seem interested in the millions of ground squirrels. We had a rattlesnake a couple weeks ago and it didn’t bother the chickens or the wild bunny living in the bush. After eating some of the eggs and scaring me, it became next day lunch for the vultures….and such is the cycle of life.

  6. Love that pic with all the chicken butts. Our hens are confined for a while due to an upcoming party also. But they do have our compost bin to mess around in. Like the log idea too.

  7. I need a new log in the girls run, why did you choose birch Terry? Does it rot well? Lovely botty picture :o)

  8. Darn hawks, where was your guard dog? Love the bottoms up photo!

    • Alas, although Lily chases hawks, she also chases chickens and I don’t risk her being out at the same time as them.

  9. Yeah, like Marie said, where was Lily? No kibble for her for a week!

  10. Terry did your hens scatter when the hawk dive bombed them?
    Where they easy to coax back into the run? When it’s happened to me the hens run for the honeysuckle and a tub of lard and mealworms can’t get them to come out for an hour or so.

    • My hens are way too fat, complacent and safe. I ran before they did! It’s easy to put them in their pen. I shake a plastic container of some treat and they run as fast as they can. Once in, they didn’t even huddle inside. They spent maybe 5 minutes looking worried and then went right back to normal.

  11. We love to lift paver stones to reveal bugs for our girls when they are pecking about in the yard. It’s so funny to watch them hurry over to find “treats.”

  12. It’s so good to see Buffy out and about. My office watches the HenCam daily and there are always comments on Buffy (or Eleanor or Edwina, we can’t tell who is who) sitting by herself on the roost inside the barn.

    • It’s Buffy inside on the roost. Above the fray. She gets down to eat and drink, and she does go outside and have a nice dust bath when it’s sunny.