As the last of the leaves fall, blanketing the grass and the temperatures dabble between cold and warm before surrendering to nights with consistent frosts and days requiring jackets, the chicks are settling into a routine of egg laying in the mornings, exploring their run during the day and snuggling up together at night to ward off the cooler temperatures.
The thick layer of leaves on the ground is indicative of bare trees which enhances the hawks’ already excellent vision, providing little cover now. Despite blending in with the autumn hues of the fallen leaves, the hawks are finding them quickly so sadly, their time outside is now limited and under supervision only because the hawks waste no time swooping into the yard inciting me with anger, fear and frustration.
Today, it occurred to me that we hadn’t gone to the pumpkin patch for pumpkins yet so we managed to squeeze in a quick trip in the afternoon. Our late voyage proved beneficial to the girls. Since it’s the day before Halloween, we were told that we could take as many pumpkins as we could carry and we did.
As we bumped along the dirt road in the tractor on our hayride to the pumpkin patch, I informed the family that chickens love pumpkins and that they are a good source of vitamins. This would be an excellent treat for them and keep the pumpkins from just rotting in the fields. I so love the reduced food waste with chickens!
Our trunk loaded and visions of carvings in our minds, we brought the loot home and set them out. The girls wondered about the fuss as the kids prepared their pumpkins for carving so we let them out. They were curious about the pumpkins decorating our back steps but didn’t fully appreciate them until I cut one open and deposited it into the coop where they quickly devoured every seed and strand of pumpkin flesh.
To keep them busy on these hawk challenged days of fall where leave barren trees provide extended views for these predators, I’ve been raking leaves into the run and tucking treasures underneath the leaves to keep them busy hunting. We also added a large decaying tree stump for perching and pecking.
Our ambition to keep predators out of the run and coop by burying the hardware cloth down deeply into the soil was met with a bit of mockery by the chickens. They love scratching and digging and have therefore managed to dig away a lot of soil along the run walls, causing a bit of concern as to how far down they’d dig. So we cut some large branches and placed them along the walls to deter them from digging out and escaping into the great unknown. Seems every time we figure something out, they show us that we’re not really running this show.
As colder weather sets in with low overnight temperatures, we added a run door that operates by pulley so we can raise and lower the door from outside the run. The hens line up and head inside at the first hint of evening when dusk barely begins and I then close the door.
I’m greeted delightfully in the mornings when I open the door just before sunrise and they come tumbling out of the door, scrambling down the ramp, pushing and shoving, and greeting me with bawks and coos, looking for any morning treats I may be bringing, like oatmeal or yogurt.
The girls will now enjoy pumpkins for days thanks to the generosity of our local pumpkin patch and market. Wishing you a Happy Halloween!